Sexist Comments After £185k Payout Show How Far We Still Have To Go

Estate agent Alice Thompson took her employer to tribunal over claim of indirect sex discrimination.

woman on keyboard at night

by Grazia Contributor |
Updated on

For more parenting stories and advice, check out Grazia's parenting community on Instagram @TheJuggleUK

It has often been said that one of the positive things to come out of this pandemic has been employers’ realisation that working from home, and doing flexible hours, can be just as effective as being in the office from 9am until 6pm. In fact, working flexibly or part-time is often extra efficient because it means a laser focus on the task in hand.

This week it was revealed that estate agent Alice Thompson was awarded £184,961.32 compensation from her former employer, Manors, for indirect sex discrimination. She began to be excluded at work after becoming pregnant in 2018. And, on returning from maternity leave, she requested a four-day week and leaving the office at 5pm, rather than 6pm. The panel ruled this request was not seriously considered.

Alice, who spent tens of thousands in legal fees over more than two years, has said the process was ‘draining, emotionally and financially’ and she was happy to have ‘closure’ with this week's verdict.

She made the decision to go through the exhausting process for other women (and parents in general, although it is still often women who shoulder the childcare burden), and for her daughter’s future, because the verdict sets a precedent.

And, while the news was celebrated on social media by many, including Grazia's very own Anna Whitehouse aka @mother_pukka, and Pregnant Then Screwed, who supported Alice with legal advice, unfortunately online comments have shown there is still a long way to go.

Some comments under the Mail Online's story branded her a 'snowflake', while one remarked: 'Crazy world where working Mums want it all, never mind the constant pressure to others in the office to pick up their slack.'

Another added: 'What a joke, ridiculous. This lady is not helping the female cause... you get paid to work on your company's terms and conditions.'

Meanwhile, a person who I hope is never a boss commented: 'If I started a company, I wouldn't employ women of child bearing age.'

At the tribunal, the panel heard that Alice's boss, Paul Sellar, was heard saying to a colleague: ‘For f**k's sake, why is she pregnant when we are doing so well? I was warned about employing a married woman of her age.’ (He later denied making those remarks.)

The comments show that, sadly, employers are not the only ones with these sexist, dated views. And, when it comes to equality for parents in the workplace, we still have a big hill to climb.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us