Barclays sack mother of ill child
Bank face multi-million dollar tribunal
This week US news platform ABC News reported that a new mother whose baby was born with cancer is taking Barclays to court after the UK Bank fired her for an extended leave of absence, during which time Barclays also cancelled her child's health coverage.
Rachel Walsh is filing a complaint with the financial regulator alleging breach of contract and gender discrimination, and demanding $10 million in damages and compensation.
A month after giving birth her baby was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma—cancer in the retinas of both eyes.
She took extended maternity leave and then asked to return.
According to ABC news Walsh says her superiors initially sounded understanding and supportive. She was told, she says, that the bank would have a position for her when she was able to return, and that she could then begin by working from home or on a flexible schedule. According to her complaint she and Barclays signed a contract to that effect.
Her son's chemotherapy ended in the spring of 2012, and, in early August, she told Barclays she was ready to resume work—on a flextime basis, if possible.
However according to ABC one of her bosses told her that she (the boss) opposed Walsh's going back into the same position she had held before, owing to the heavy workload and deadlines associated with it. Walsh told ABC "She said she would not feel comfortable because of nights where I might have to be at the hospital with my son."
Walsh believed this to be sexist.
"She was assuming that because I was the mother," Walsh explained to ABC, "I would be the one who would have to sacrifice; that I would not be able to come to work. But if I had been a man, I don't think my boss would have assumed that. Actually, my fiancée had taken a flexible job, so that he could be there for the baby."
Walsh told Barclays she would go into any position the bank could find for her but Barclays responded that no positions—either part-time or full-time--were available, and that Walsh was no longer a "fit" for the group with whom she used to work.
"They said they had nothing available, and that I would be losing all my benefits."
Her attorney has called Barclays' assumption "shocking, morally abhorrent, and clearly sexist."
Read more about Barclays in our special report on banking.
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