Travers 'discriminated against pregnant trainee', tribunal hears

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  • I am afraid this reflects very poorly on Travers Smith

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  • This incident and the comments above reinforce my intention to discourage my two teenage daughters from pursuing careers in the law.
    However well intentioned any law firm may be, the practical reality is that there will never be genuine flexibility for mothers.

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  • I am a male partner in the London office of a global law firm. We have had long and serious strategic discussions about ensuring that the law firm environment is able to recognise working mothers. The world has changed since the days of signet rings and port after a long lunch. Our clients are female, our best and brightest fee earners are female and it would be utterly naive for us to behave in a way that doesn't recognise this. Travers Smith much be a dinosaur not to have thought about this until today. I am disgusted, yet amused by a firm that probably considers itself a business.

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  • The only people being naive here are those commenting. Where in the article does it say that the trainee actually believed the stuff about working hours? The extract from her witness statement simply points out that what is said about working hours is not correct, which is exactly the type of easy and obvious point you would expect a claimant's witness statement to contain. I suspect that the informal way in which qualification decisions are generally made in city firms may leave Travers a little exposed here.

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  • Travers Smith should not be judged just yet. Lets wait for the outcome of the tribunal please!

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  • I find it rather sad that several of the comments here assume that things will never change. We are the first generation born and raised within the era of equal opportunities legislation and widespread 2-working-parent families. With that in mind, things must and will change, and in fact are already changing as the old guard move on and working mothers become the norm, both in law firms and the wider world. However, it sometimes takes brave people like Ms Tantum to challenge prejudices and outdated assumptions. I suspect this publicity may damage her personal career prospects but it may also make this firm and others sit up and take notice, and think twice about how they deal with pregnant lawyers - for that I think we have to applaud her.

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  • Sorry people but we need a dose of realism. Whilst it would be fantastic to say there is equality there simply isn't. As a woman in law I am realistic to know that as and when I decide to have children, my career will suffer. I won't be made up whilst I am pregnant/ on mat leave and my firm will not recognise the constraints of pregnancy vis a vis hours and maintaining contacts (where a lot of business will be done over alcohol). Unfair? Possibly. Still, I don't want positive discrimination or God forbid, an easy ride simply because I am a woman. I want to achieve on my own merits and if that means working that bit harder or juggling a few more basis than a make counterpart so be it. I have no idea about the circumstances here (and therefore can't comment either way really) but I would say that there seems to be a certain amount of naivety in play As a woman I understand the business decision of a firm who has invested a huge amount financially in a trainee who might want to cut their losses. Is that right? who knows? I guess it depends on whether there was a business reason to keep her on or to keep investing in her if actually she wasn't up to the job ( and that's not something I or anyone here probably knows with any certainty)

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  • Some of the comments on this thread are unbelievably frustrating and depressing. One "more in sorrow than in anger" response apparently being "Ladies find another career which will let you have babies"??! Seriously?! Best of luck to the ex-Travers trainee in question. Only when firms are shown by tribunals with teeth that they simply cannot unfairly treat female employees with the temerity to fall pregnant and continue with their career will things change. If we are not careful we will retreat to a neo-Mad Men era where professional women are confined to nappy valley once the babies come, tending solely to the careers of their men and the cares of their brood.

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  • @anon 3:26 - Maybe you should wait for the tribunal's judgement before pre-judging.

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  • As a woman who worked at Travers Smith for several years, I can believe entirely that this claim is justified (although I await the outcome of the tribunal etc etc). It was a great place to work for lots of reasons - decent work, collegiate atmosphere and so on - but fairly macho. One male partner told me that it was 'no place for a woman' and to 'get out while you can'. Female associates (myself included) were worried about becoming pregnant and were often ribbed about their sex lives by male partners. Glad that I did get out when I could.

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