It takes balls to file this kind of lawsuit.
A man working for the British firm Eversheds filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit after being fired from the firm. He claimed that the firm should have fired a woman out on maternity leave — but Eversheds didn’t because it was worried that the woman would file a sexual discrimination lawsuit.
John de Belin won £123,000 in damages after one of Britain’s biggest law firms ‘deprived him of his livelihood’.
Mr de Belin, 45, was one of two associates facing redundancy from Eversheds’ property division in Leeds. The other was Angela Reinholz, 40.
To decide who would be sacked, the firm undertook an assessment of both Mr de Belin’s and Mrs Reinholz’s abilities, including financial performance, discipline history and absence records.
Mr de Belin was fired in February 2009 after losing by just half a point, scoring 27 out of 39 in the exercise against Mrs Reinholz’s 27.5.
The problem was that Reinholz’s score was “inflated” while she was out on maternity leave…
It looks like the decision by the employment tribunal has put Eversheds in a no win situation. It’s not like Evershed just gave Reinholz two extra points for having breasts. The Law Society Gazette reports:
Eversheds’ redundancy programme was based on a points system judged against certain criteria. One criterion, which carried a maximum of two points, judged potential redundancy candidates on how quickly they achieved payment for work during a certain timeframe. A woman colleague of de Belin was automatically awarded the maximum two points for this on the grounds that she was not available to be assessed. Eversheds considered that it would have been open to a discrimination claim from her had it not awarded maximum points.
Let’s break that down. You get points for getting people to actually pay you for the business you bring in. De Belin — who was working full time — receive .5 points for his realization during the period. Reinholz was out on leave, so the firm gave her the maximum score. According to the employment tribunal, this is discrimination.
Okay, let’s flip that around. Let’s say that the Eversheds awarded Reinholz no points for not hassling clients over bills from the maternity ward. That’s fair? Oh, take your government mandated maternity leave, but if you don’t get your billing done you could be fired.
I’m just not sure how Eversheds was supposed to handle this situation. If giving her two points is unfair, giving her zero points is just as unfair. And splitting the difference and giving her one point is unfair and statistically stupid. There’s simply no way to know how Reinholz would have done “locking up” business had she not been out having a baby.
Eversheds will appeal the decision. I’m sure at this point, the firm would just be happy for a judge to tell them what the hell they were supposed to do.
Law firm unfairly axed male lawyer because it feared discrimination claim if it got rid of his pregnant colleague [Daily Mail]
Eversheds to fight employment tribunal bias ruling [Law Society Gazette]
Laid-Off Eversheds Associate Wins Reverse Bias Judgment [ABA Journal]