We don’t have to remind you that it’s been a rough four months for working parents. According to a recent survey from Udemy, 90 percent of working moms feel that childcare and homeschooling are keeping them from doing their jobs, and 78 percent of working parents are concerned that this “new normal” will have a long-lasting effect on their career and quality of life. That certainly was the case for Drisana Rios, who was working for an insurance company in San Diego until last month, when she said she was fired for going to HR about her boss’ discrimination against her as a mother working from home.
In June, Rios went viral with her Instagram post about how her boss had complained frequently about her children making noise during online meetings.
“He wanted me to figure out a way to keep the kids quiet 😣,” she wrote. “I went to Human Resources with proof of what was going [on] for the last 3 months, and 7 days later AFTER that I got fired!!!!”
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| 28 days ago I finally had enough of the 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗿𝗶𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 that my boss was giving me for him not being okay with hearing my kids in the background on calls.|😭😡😖💔 . He wanted me to figure out a way to keep the kids quiet 😣. I went to Human Resources with proof of what was going for the last 3 months and 7 days later AFTER that 𝗜 𝗴𝗼𝘁 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱!!!! 😭 They told me that I should be happy that the outcome to my career there could have been worse. I’m crying as I type this…😭 I was told I had a bright future. That I was doing very well in my position! 💔💔💔😭💔😭 .
The last 3 months I have worked around the clock from home while watching my two toddlers😭. I have met all the deadlines they have asked me for, even the unrealistic ones. The situation that I had endured the last 3 months is beyond stressful😭. How does a company that says that they understand and will work around the schedule of parents do the complete opposite with their actions? 😭 I’m devastated. I have poured hours, tears, sweats, delayed giving my child a snack when he wanted one because my boss needed me to do something right away. And what did I get in return? 𝗙𝗜𝗥𝗘𝗗!!! 😭😭😭😭😭 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 .
They can keep the 𝗵𝘂𝘀𝗵 money they offered to not bring this up🚫🛑✋! No working mother should be discriminated against , especially during these times for not being able to keep my 𝟭 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗲𝘁 for a business call 😡For not being able to turn something around in 5 minutes when my baby wants a snack😡. We are in tough times right now. This situation would have been temporary. None of my clients had issues with my kids in the background. 𝗜'𝗺 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗺𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗴𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 ! 𝗜𝘁'𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗼𝗸𝗮𝘆!!!💪. IT’S NOT OKAY to have to feel that your boss is making you pick your work over your kids during these times!!!𝗜𝘁'𝘀 𝗡𝗢𝗧 𝗢𝗞𝗔𝗬!!! #justice
Rios hired attorney Daphne Delvaux and filed a lawsuit against HUB International. At issue, Delvaux explained to SheKnows, is 1) the fact that the manager never once complained about the noise of her male colleagues’ children, which is clearly showing discrimination against Rios as a mother. And 2) she was fired after taking her evidence to human resources, which Delvaux says is grounds for saying she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for making her complaint.
“While we can’t comment on pending litigation, HUB is proud to have successfully transitioned 90% of its 12,000+ employees to working remotely from home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” a company spokesperson told SheKnows.
Every time we read about Rios, who blogs as ModernCaliMom, we’re filled with rage anew. But also we get scared for all the other parents out there barely keeping their heads above water. With many school districts only offering partial reopening plans — the best they can do to keep us all safe right now — we might expect to see more examples of managers getting fed up with interruptions from children stuck at home. That’s why we asked Delvaux to give us some tips on what parents (and sadly, we’re mostly talking about moms) can do if they fear biased retaliation from their employers.
1. See if you qualify for partial leave or accommodations.
Employers do have a right to expect you to do the work assigned to you, attend meetings, and work certain hours. It’s nice when they’re flexible about these things, but if they’re not, you may still have options.
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed this spring, workers at companies with less than 500 employees can qualify for an additional 10 weeks of family leave at two-thirds pay if they have to care for a child because school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19. You can take this as partial time, in order to spread out the weeks.
“A lot of my clients have been able to take advantage of this new leave and protect their job, and I encourage them to do so,” Delvaux told us.
You may also request accommodations be made to change meeting times or schedules if you have a disability, are pregnant, or pumping.
Unfortunately, Rios’ employer has more than 500 employees, so this was never an option, but she was actually completing all her work and attending all meetings.
2. Recognize and document when discrimination is happening.
If your manager is making demands of you that they’re not doing for other employees, or making disparaging remarks about your children or your “lack of commitment” (a common stereotype of mothers), it’s time for you to take notes.
“I always tell my clients to email themselves a daily summary of everything that happens, so that there’s a time stamp, because when there’s handwritten notes, often they will question when those are written,” Delvaux said.
Remember that if you do get terminated or resign, you’ll lose access to your work email and any group chat software, so email your documentation to a personal account.
3. Talk to other women.
Delvaux always suggests talking to other women in the company to see if this is a pattern of behavior. “It’s a lot easier as a group to combat discrimination than as one person,” she said.
4. Keep doing your work.
Once you make a complaint, your boss may try to look for any legitimate excuse to terminate you, so don’t give them that opening.
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| Nobody hides pain better than a mother who's trying to remain strong for her kids. 🥺| . Ain't that the truth😢 Holding back the tears of everything I've been through the last few months is overwhelming as you can only imagine! 😬If you ask me how many times I have cried in the last few months I have lost count😭 I've tried to keep it together in front of the kids, but man it's tough🥺💔 . Yesterday I shared what I did with my family to release stress and anxiety that I have endured the last few months. Today I want to focus on the stigma & benefits of crying. First of all, 𝙄𝙏'𝙎 𝙊𝙆𝘼𝙔 𝙏𝙊 𝘾𝙍𝙔!! 😭😭😭😭😭 . 𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮 𝗳𝗲𝘄 𝗯𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗰𝗿𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴: 1. Releasing tears flushes out toxins 2. Crying helps to deal with stress 3. Releasing tears helps your body recover from physiological pain . So remember, 𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝙊𝙆 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙧𝙮. LET those tears run mamas!🙏 You're only human ♥️♥️♥️♥️ Virtual hugs🤗
5. Confront your employer, and put it in writing.
It’s not going to be a fun conversation, but you have to tell your manager that you perceive their actions as discriminatory. If you do so in person or on the phone or video, recap the conversation in email.
“Just say, ‘Hey, this is an email to memorialize our conversation. This is what you said; this is what I said,'” Delvaux explained.
Rarely do these conversations actually resolve the issue, she said, but these are all records you’ll want later.
6. Take your complaint to human resources.
“Usually, when human resources does its job, what they do in a situation like this is investigate,” Devaux said. “Then they would often reprimand or counsel the manager or separate my client from the manager and move them to another team.”
This can work, especially since this isn’t a great time for companies to look like they don’t care about working mothers.
Sadly, as we all know, there are some human resources departments that do their job, and others that feel their loyalty is only to upper management, not to the whole team. (See also: the Weinstein Company.) Still, you’ve got to do this, and you’ve got to keep records of what transpires.
7. Hire a lawyer.
You may be tempted to look up the laws online and go straight to an agency such as the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This might be shooting yourself in the foot, Delvaux said.
“A lot of women will look at their rights under federal law, which is really the bare minimum, when in many states you have way more rights than you think you do,” she explained. “And in addition to state rights, you actually have city ordinances.”
Your best bet for navigating this tangled web of laws is a local attorney whose job it is to know them all backwards and forwards. They will be able to recognize which laws your employer might be violating, can navigate the court system, and file things in just the right manner to move your case forward. Delvaux said that sometimes when people try to represent themselves they miss deadlines, misfile things, and wind up owing money to their former employer rather than the other way around.
“Almost all attorneys like me do free consultation,” she said. “And almost all attorneys like me who represent plaintiffs work on a contingency basis, meaning that we don’t charge our clients. We eventually get paid through the company. So don’t be scared to call a lawyer.”
8. Find a new job, and go on with your life.
It might be your fantasy to sue your company, get your old job back or live off of the damages you win, but that’s not realistic. These cases usually take a year to resolve, and the courts are even slower now with coronavirus delays.
“I always tell my clients to move on with their life, get another job, and let me do my job,” Delvaux said.
The good news is that you’re probably not immediately on some kind of blacklist of people who sue their bosses. Unless you’re like Rios and shout about your case from the internet’s rooftops, a prospective employer would have to look pretty hard to find out whether you’d filed a complaint. And when you resolve your case, your lawyer will usually require the former employer to stay mum about it.
As for Rios, Delvaux is hopeful that some employers will actually admire what she’s done.
“Someone who takes a stand against discrimination — when that becomes your reputation, it’s not always a bad thing,” she said. “Companies who know that they are aligned with that sort of bravery will actually be drawn to her.”
Stuck at home with the kids this summer? These summer camp alternatives might allow you to get some work done.