Is this legal?
I am about to begin work for a university, as a full time research assistant. I announced my pregnancy in January when I was about 9 weeks pregnant (the principal investigator - PI - on the project is currently my PhD supervisor so I've known her for a while. This also means I'm around the office a lot in the run up to the job starting). She said she was "disappointed", that this was "a huge problem" for the project, told me others (named) "would hit the roof when they found out". She asked if I was pregnant when I applied for or accepted the job. She was altogether very unpleasant. But we agreed she wouldn't tell anyone else until I said it was ok. She ignored this and proceeded to tell people, even though I requested in writing that she didn't as a follow up to this meeting and HR also told her she wasn't allowed to. My JD has also substantially changed. The job is an evaluation of an intervention taking place over the summer, which involves work before and after (interviews and data analysis). I've been taken off all this work, without any consultation, so that I am left doing the literature review for the project. My JD is essentially 20% of what it was before (though I remain on full pay). When the PI got so angry about me being pregnant, as a gesture of good will the department said they would ask the person who is going to cover my mat leave to start working 10% from April, then full time from August (when I go on leave); they are also paying for this. HR told me in no uncertain terms that this person wouldn't be doing my job because legally it was my job. I was told we would be working together so that the transition and handover would be smooth. It turns out this person is now doing all the data collection and analysis and I am doing none. I suspect she'll be doing far more than 10% (even though HR said this would never happen). I asked last week in a project meeting whether I would meet her at some point and for us to do some work together and was told that she wouldn't have time to meet me. The head of HR was at the meeting and didn't say anything.
Incidentally, I was also told that the person who will be doing the data collection and analysis interviewed for the position but didn't have the skills, knowledge or experience required to do it.
The pragmatic side of me thinks I should drop it and to do my own independent work which may be more beneficial to my careers (e.g. publish papers).
The angry side of me says this is outrageous and unacceptable and I want to fight it as a matter of principle, but I am worried about the emotional impact of this. As a junior researcher fighting a senior Professor I also don't feel I have anything to gain except from making a principled point? And that in the end, I will only suffer from doing anything further.
Danielle from Gorvins Solicitors
Hi Eva didn’t we speak on the advice line a few weeks back and I gave you some advice regarding your situation?!c
Danielle from Gorvins Solicitors
Hi Danielle, we did and then it got worse with the stuff around my job basically disappearing / being taken off me. When we spoke it was a smaller part of the project being taken off me. Now it's about 70-80%.
I've decided not to fight it, it's too stressful. But thanks for your time here and on the phone a few weeks ago, it did help to know where I stood.
Danielle from Gorvins Solicitors
What a shame! I’m so sorry to hear it wasn’t sorted out. You know where we are if you need anything else or change your mind (mindful of the 3-month timelimit).
Danielle from Gorvins Solicitors
Hi, I informed my manager of my pregnancy on the 29th of October, my baby is due on the 12th of June. As of now I have worked for my current employer for just over a year. She stated that she would have to draw up a risk assessment for me, and promised to do so ASAP. By the 7th of December she still had not done this and as a support worker I was being asked to complete tasks by senior members of staff and herself which I thought were frankly unacceptable. Examples of this are having to carry clients’ heavy shopping bags back from the shops, and being told to clean out a filthy bathroom which builders had left in a mess, with bleach.
Another staff member witnessed me completing some of these tasks and told me that I shouldn’t be doing them. I explained to them that I was still waiting to receive my risk assessment, and that I was unsure as to what warranted a risk in the company’s eyes. This member of staff complained on my behalf unbeknownst to me, and a few days later the manager asked me to see her in her office. She said that she knew I’d been gossiping to other staff about not yet having a risk assessment, and that it had been on her laptop the whole time. She said she would send it to me via email, but couldn’t print it because her printer wasn’t working. In the email she states that she will print a copy for herself and myself as soon as her printer was back up and running, however that has yet to happen. I stated that it wasn’t gossiping, but concern from my colleagues and myself over what I should and should not be doing now that I’m pregnant. I am also 44 years of age and this pregnancy has come as quite a shock!
During the conversation my manager began talking about new clients that are going to be introduced to our service and their needs. She said that she was frustrated about being the only one with a nursing background, and that she needed support in this area. I then explained to her about my several years experience working as a team leader with the kind of clients she had described. She got quite excited whilst explaining to me about a senior role that was only being advertised internally. She encouraged me to apply and asked me to email her promptly so that she could inform head office. I stated to her that I was already aware of the role, but worried about applying because of my pregnancy and that I didn’t want to affect the company when I went on maternity leave. She said that this had no bearing on the situation and that with my previous experience and Pearsons Level 3 Diploma in Health & Social Care I was more than qualified.
She arranged my interview on my day off at Christmas on the 28th of December. I thought this was a bit off considering I’d had to work Christmas Day and a 15 hour shift on Boxing Day, however I obliged the request.
On the day in question she kept me waiting for over an hour and when I said I had an appointment to see her, I was just told that she was busy! This meant that all of my colleagues saw me and put two and two together, when I had wanted to keep the interview a secret.
Eventually she came out of her office stating that she had had the busiest day, and then asked if I was on shift that day. I told her I was not, and she said that I should have informed her, however she is the person who is responsible for completing the rota and has a copy in front of her by her desk.
She asked me to come through to her office and introduced herself as if we had never met before. She explained that the admin assistant would be taking notes while she asked the questions. Questions that were positively identical to the questions I had been asked when I joined the company as a support worker. Every time I answered a question she said things like “you answered that so well, and I love how you added this and that....” At the end of the interview she reiterated how well I had done and how she felt really positive about the outcome. She told me she would let me know ASAP whether I had got the job, and thanked me for attending.
On the evening of Friday the 4th of January, she rang me stating how excited she was and how well I’d done again etc. She said she just had to speak to the area manager over the weekend, but that she felt very positive about it.
On Monday the 7th of January, last night, I received a voicemail asking me to call her. I called her back within an hour of receiving it and she sounded really quiet. I asked if she was okay and she stated that she was driving. I then asked if I should call back another time and she said it was best we talked now.
She said “you wasn’t successful, you didn’t get the job, one of the other applicants scored more points than you on the questions, although it was such a close call.” She followed it up by fobbing me off with, “there will be other positions in the future where I’ll be looking for someone”, and that I could apply for those! I was a little in shock, but thanked her for letting me know, before putting the phone down. I felt humiliated, stupid, upset and angry, all very negative emotions I know.
The two other candidates are my colleagues, one is 21 years old and has very little experience in care, and the other has never worked in care before, and asked me for tips on what kind of questions would be asked at the interview. Neither have a level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health & Social Care or any other relevant qualification, to my knowledge.
I found myself not being able to sleep all night, and I eventually rang work at 04.30hrs to state that I wouldn’t be coming in today. I hardly ever take time off work but I’ve been feeling sick with stress and have been suffereing with a really bad headache. I contacted my manager during her working hours as per protocol, but felt unable to do it by phone as I thought I might cry, and I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. Instead I emailed her stating that I had been suffering with a chronic headache with feelings of nausea. She sent an email back stating ‘poor you, I hope you feel better soon.’ She did not ask if it had anything to do with our conversation the previous evening.
I would like to ask the experts what they think, and if I’m being too sensitive. I’ve tried talking to my partner about it, but he’s not very patient and doesn’t really understand. Thank you for this forum, writing this has stopped me weeping all day.
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