July 08, 2020

No Kids – No Kidding!

COVID-19 is teaching employers and employees new ways of doing business. Some good, some not-so-good.  Tele- and videoconferencing are just a few strategies employers are using now, more than ever (I suspect).  The hiccups and mishaps are so replete even television commercials poke fun.  But it was no laughing matter for one employer who is now facing a lawsuit.

The New York Times reported an employee has filed suit against her employer whom she alleges fired her because her children were too noisy during business conference calls. The former employee states her supervisor told her to “take care of your kid situation,” among other things.

I would point out that she did not just sue her employer.  The article reports she has named her supervisor in the lawsuit as well.  He may need to start turning his pockets inside out.  She is suing for back pay plus mental and emotional distress. Priceless!

Lessons Learned.  As this former employee perceived it, her supervisor was “motivated by a clear bias against mothers.”  To avoid such perceptions, employers may want to develop protocols for work-from-home (WFH) practices. For example,  employees should mute their lines when not speaking to avoid all background noise, whether it’s phones that ring or children that sing.  That may help avoid at least the perception of bias or discrimination.