A Tense Situation
Angela woke up feeling worse than she had ever felt before. She knew she was too ill to go into work. She called her company and explained the situation she was in, but her boss wasn’t having any of it.
The notes was firmly gripped between her fingers as she stormed into the boardroom. Her boss was sitting amongst his superiors. He looked shocked and horrified to see her there. This was not going to end well for him.
Angela Thompson was a single mom with two daughters, 5-year-old Emily, and 3-year-old, Sam. Being a mom was something she had always dreamed of becoming and she loved every second of it.
But that didn’t mean that it didn’t also come with its challenges – especially when it came to her career.
Angela worked in a high-stress job at a real-estate firm. She was one of their top account executives and got paid a decent salary but it didn’t come easy.
Balancing her life as a businesswoman and a mom was hard on the best of days but she loved what she did and had people around her that helped – except for one.
Feeling Run Down
Needless to say, she kept a busy lifestyle. She drove her kids to childcare on her way to work every morning where they’d stay until 3 pm. Then, her mom would then collect them and look after them until she got back from work at around 6 pm.
She was constantly exhausted so it’s no surprise that her immune system began to suffer.
When Angela woke up with a severe case of the flu, she immediately called her office to let them know she couldn’t come in.
If there was just one thing Angela could change about her life, it would have been her boss, Steve. He was awful to almost everyone so she expected him to kick up a little bit of a fuss. Instead, he was completely outraged.
Angela spent the night with a dull fever that was increasing in intensity as the morning rolled out. Her chest felt heavy with phlegm and her head, blocked with congestion.
Tentatively, she wearingly made breakfast for her girls as she talked to the boss on the phone. He didn’t believe that she was sick and requested that she show him more proof. Then he gave her an ultimatum.
He needed her in the office today. A new client was coming in and Angela was one of the best on the team. He told her that if she didn’t bring him a doctor’s note, she’d get fired for her tardiness.
Angela listened to him in shock. Shock that quickly morphed into an outrage of her own. She wasn’t going to get fired over this, he was.
Angela hopped in the car and made her way to the doctor’s office. She was seen quickly as a walk-in. She got sent home with the note and reprimanded for endangering everyone with the flu.
When she explained her impossible situation, however, the doctor was equally shocked by the unreasonable and probable illegal ultimatum her boss gave her. They devised a plan.
A sick Angela and a shocked doctor sat together and created the perfect revenge note for the miserable boss.
With the note in hand, Angela left the doctor’s office and headed straight to her office. She burst through the doors, pale and feverish. Once her coworkers saw her, they immediately asked what she was doing here. But she couldn’t stay and chat. She was on a mission.
Angela took the note from her pocket and knocked on the conference door where her boss and fellow company head staff were having a meeting.
She smiled when she noticed her boss’s boss sitting in the room. This was going to go down epically. She was welcomed into the room with smiles and greetings. Then her boss spotted her.
Angela made a beeline for him. “Angela”, he said. “I was only joking when I talked to you on the phone. You didn’t need to come in”, he laughed nervously.
“Being threatened to be fired didn’t feel like much of a joke to me. You can understand why I needed to be sure and deliver this sick note as demanded”, Angela crocked. Her voice was fading fast.
Angela handed the note to her boss. Suddenly, his boss stood up to peer over the letter. It read; “Angela has come to the surgery because Steve has insisted she come in, in spite of the fact that this is illegal and all employees are allowed to self certify.
Due to being forced to make this unnecessary and highly dangerous trip when the patient is ill, has a fever of 39°C, and almost passed out in the waiting room”, the letter continued…
“I am signing Angela off for two full weeks to recover. Had Angela been allowed to self-certify as is the law, she might only have needed a few days, but due to straining herself, she now requires two full weeks. She is not to be permitted to work until this date 2 weeks later”.
Although Angela was feeling desperately ill, she couldn’t help but relish Steve’s boss’s reaction.
He was horrified and immediately asked Steve to explain himself in front of all of his superiors. He immediately denied any wrongdoing but was instantly shut down.
He more or less admitted guilt the moment she stepped in the door and he told her he wasn’t being serious. His boss drove Angela home and apologized on behalf of the company, assuring her that swift action would be taken against Steve.
She stuck true to her word. Steve was fired the next day and Angela got to enjoy her two weeks of paid leave for a recovery that ended up only taking a few days.
No matter what job or position you hold, it’s important to treat every single person with respect. What a great lesson in the power of standing up for yourself! But Angela isn’t the only one who got screwed over by their boss…
Alice Thompson was one of the top-performing real-estate sales managers in her firm. She was at the peak of her career when the unimaginable happened.
Thompson was a hard-working woman who loved to be intellectually challenged. In other words, she didn’t shy away from a fight and for the most part, it paid off.
Heart And Soul
“I’d put my heart and soul into an estate agency career for more than a decade,” she explained. “That’s no mean feat, it’s quite a male-dominated environment to work in. And I’ve worked really hard to build relationships with clients”.
However, Thompson had no idea what all her hard work was about to amount to.
It was the happiest day of Thompson’s life when she found out she was pregnant. She had always wanted to be a mom but was adamant she wanted to be financially secure before doing so.
Now, it was as if all her plans were finally coming to fruition. She took maternity leave for her pregnancy and looked forward to returning to the office. But she had one simple request.
In the UK, all employees have the right to request flexible working hours after 26 weeks of being with a single firm. If a request is in, the firm must consider it fairly and make a decision within 3 months.
Knowing this, Thompson returned to work after maternity leave and exercised her right. Little did she know it would end in disaster.
A Small Request
Thompson asked her employer if she could work shorter hours. She wanted a four day week, and to leave at 5pm, rather than the normal 6pm finish time.
Her reason was to pick her daughter up from nursery. She even suggested starting work earlier at 8am rather than 9am so she could work her normal 9-hour shift. But their reply left her stunned.
“I made a request for flexible working that wasn’t seriously considered,” Thompson said. “I proposed what would have worked for me. If that didn’t work for the company, I would have been more than happy to hear a counteroffer, which might work for them.”
“But it was shut down, every avenue, not listened to, not considered. And I was left with no other option…”
Upset And Angry
Thompson was deeply upset. Their unwillingness to accommodate her needs as an employee with a child left her with no option.
She handed in her resignation feeling disregarded and expendable. After working there for over 10 years, she helped the company grow, and now just because she was a mother with out-of-office responsibilities, she wasn’t valued any more. That’s when the anger set in.
Lack Of Compassion
She couldn’t understand why they were so unwilling to help her and their lack of compassion and understanding for her new situation made her stomach churn!
“How are mums meant to have careers and families? It’s 2021 not 1971″, she said. She spent almost a year trying to forget the horrible ordeal until something clicked.
Feeling Pushed Out
She felt like she had no job to return to. It was simply impossible to keep up child care and work a full-time job. She was confused, and hurt. She felt like the industry she worked so hard to contribute to had pushed her out and left her sidelined.
That’s when she decided she needed to teach them a lesson and make them pay.
Thompson decided to call up a lawyer and ask him where she stood. The lawyer was beaming ear to ear on hearing her case. He swiftly advised her to pursue her case and take them to court under the charges of discrimination.
Thompson had never sued anyone before. She had no idea how this was going to go.
A Ball Of Nerves
She spent hours learning about legal pursuits and how to conduct herself in court. She knew that with a case like this, it was only a matter of time before she hit the headlines.
When she appeared in court, she was trembling with nerves. She looked around the room and spotted the VIP’s in her firm. Before, she did everything she could to impress them.
Now, it was a completely different story. She looked at them with disdain as she made her way to the testimony stand.
She noticed their cold looks as she introduced herself to the court. There was nothing but bad blood between them now. She tried her best not to feel intimidated.
She sat on the chair, facing the court and recounted her unjust experience. Her speech was emotional and inspiring. When she finished speaking, she looked at the judge.
Suddenly, she was thankful the judge was also a woman. Maybe she had children of her own and could relate from her own experience. But Thompson had no idea what she was thinking. Would her lawsuit hold up in court?
A Huge Payout
After what Thompson described as “a long, exhausting journey”, the court ruled that the firm’s inability to consider more flexible working put Thompson at a disadvantage among her peers.
The judge upheld her claim and declared that she should be awarded $254,621 for loss of earnings, loss of pension contributions, as well as her injury to feelings and interest. But then the media began to grab hold of the story.
As Thompson predicted, word of her lawsuit spread like wildfire. She hit radio and tv stations around the nation and sparked a big debate on working mothers and their treatment in the workplace.
A lot of people agreed that this was an issue that needed to be addressed – others didn’t.
Decades Of Change
It’s true that a lot has changed only within the last few decades. But the dramatic change in gender roles could potentially be one of the biggest.
Women are more independent than they ever were. Now, it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine that a woman can have children and maintain a killer career but that doesn’t mean the world is set up for her – quite the opposite.
Ideal Working Week
When the idea of the ideal working week was conceptualized, there were a lot of things that went into consideration that are simply just outdated today.
Back then, it was mainly manual labor. The idea of clocking in and out was because you physically had to be there. Not to mention, the long hours were tailored for a man who back then was the main and often only breadwinner of the family.
Long hours were regarded as the norm so that the man could earn more and provide for his family. But now, there are usually two earners in the family.
Not to mention the complete disruption digital technology has had on working life. Regardless, Thompson knew things needed to be updated and it caused hysteria online.
Many people online questioned why she was doing this, suggesting that she was only in it for the money. However, Thompson insists that she was motivated to pursue the legal challenge in order to prompt change.
One of the main motivations she had was her baby daughter.
Paving The Way
“I’ve got a daughter and I didn’t want her to experience the same treatment in 20, 30 years’ time, when she’s in the workplace.” She said she’d do it again in a heartbeat to “stand up for what is right”.
The court had this further to say…
“Losing a job unexpectedly is always a cause of unhappiness, shock, and sometimes anger, as shown by the way many employees react to redundancy, even when there has been proper consultation, and even when it is never suggested their performance was not good enough,” the court said.
The judge continued.
Ruling In Her Favor
“Here the claimant resented that flexible working appeared not to be considered properly – as in our finding it was not – and felt that this was an injustice because of her sex, which it was.”
The judge agreed that Thompson received unreasonable treatment considering her circumstance, rights, and history as a valued employee.
Thompson was relieved that the court ruled in her favor and hoped that the message behind her legal pursuit would reach companies and firms everywhere.
It’s simply not fair to penalize a woman for being a mom and having out-of-work commitments – especially when those commitments are the future generation of their nation. But what do you think?
Stick It To The Man!
Do you believe that this ruling was just and fair for the situation at hand? If so, shouldn’t all companies provide the same flexible working options so that more women can pursue a balanced life of both career and family?
The world is certainly changing, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep up with it and encourage an environment where everyone can thrive for better treatment and a better life!