'I was overlooked for promotion while I was on maternity leave. Can I dispute this?'
All your workplace questions answered.
Question: I have worked with the same company for the last 10 years. Over the last four years, I have had three children — and taken six months maternity leave for each child. I don’t think this has gone down too well with my employer — I feel I have been an inconvenience to my employer since I started having children. My partner and I are not planning to have any more children. While I was away on maternity leave for my third child, a promotion came up in work which I would have been interested in applying for and for which I would also have had the necessary skills and experience. However, I was never informed of the promotion or given the opportunity to apply for it when on maternity leave. The job went to a colleague. I feel very aggrieved about this. Can I dispute this promotion?
Eimear, Dublin 5
Answer: My first advice is to get as much information as possible in writing about this situation so that you have a paper trail and there is no dispute afterwards about who said what to whom. You say you felt that you have been an inconvenience to your employer — if you have any evidence to this effect, I would be collating this at this point.
If you feel that you had the necessary skills, experience and competencies to be considered for this particular role, I would inform the company in writing that you feel you have been discriminated against and would have liked the opportunity to have been considered for this position.
If you are not happy with the response from your human resources department, you could consider taking a case to the Workplace Relations Commission.
If it finds that you were discriminated against on the grounds of your gender by reason of your maternity leave — and contrary to Sections 6(2A) and Section 8(1) of the Employment Equality Acts, you could be due compensation.
Karen O’Reilly is the founder of Employmum, an agency which specialises in finding flexible work solutions for women and mothers returning to the workplace.