Tribunal rules against Travers in pregnancy discrimination case

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  • Unfortunately this kind of practice is quite common. The Law Society are next to useless in enacting change within the legal market.

    When I worked in a large regional firm I was the victim of a very nasty act by an associate who was pregnant with a partner's child. Suffice to say, she escaped punishment.

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  • Travers is added to the list of law firms to avoid like the plague.

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  • The company did not discrimminate,it was In the beat interest of the company to appropaiately dismiss the pregnant woman

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  • Shame on you Travers, Julian Bass and Andrew King. A well deserved win for Elizabeth George. If any city firms are reading this, this young lady is an excellent candidate for a job. The skill of any lawyer is to stand up and speak out when an injustice is done.

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  • To prevent this from happening again there needs to be a cultural shift amongst the workforce as well as an outward commitment to diversity.

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  • pretty robust comments from Travers. That might come back to haunt them if they ever face another claim.

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  • Terrible PR for for Travers who are now in damage limitation mode. Unless the tribunal's judgment was wrong in law or based on a misunderstanding of evidence (in which case Travers will no doubt appeal) there must always have been a real risk of losing at trial, in which case one simply can't understand why this case was not settled out of court commercially.

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  • The general attitude shown by many partners (not just at Travers) is that they can behave how they like, irrespective of what the law says. The case is just one example of this behaviour. The lesson is this: if you're going to ignore the law, either be prepared to settle the resulting court cases or cover your tracks better!

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  • To Anonymous 18-May-2013 7:06 am - your comment is obviously stupid. In addition, you are unable to spell correctly. Are you some form of troll? On the case itself, Travers looks bad, especially because they cannot take this on the chin without looking even worse, i.e. admitting the two-roles into one ruse.

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  • Interesting that the Tribunal dismissed the claims in relation to places in the other three teams she had a seat in. Although its obviously possible that the reduction in proposed real estate NQ positions was a result of her pregnancy, surely it's just as possible that the negative views of other partners as to her abilities were equally pursuasive when it came time to offer jobs. More than one trainee didn't make the grade after all..

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  • Bringing this claim against Travers must have been so difficult for Katie on so many levels, but most of all due to the fact that she was pregnant/in early motherhood. Many women do not feel up to bringing a claim in these circumstances, and often decide not to proceed because they have worries about the effect of the stress on the baby (which must have been a worry for Katie too). The three month time limit for bringing tribunal claims is a real problem for pregnant women who are discriminated against. It unreasonably limits access to justice and should be reconsidered urgently.

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  • I wish Katie and her new child well, but perhaps some of the comments against Travers may be somewhat unfair.

    Katie was unsuccesful in 3 out of 4 of her applications, failing to meet the required standard in corporate, tax and litigation. That perhaps illustrates that she may not have been the high standard of NQ required today (or at least to a high enough standard to justify an NQ city salary). She may have been qualified enough and performed well in her reviews to date, but she maybe did not show signs of progressing to that next stage, which is a giant leap to take.

    Furthermore, partners talk throughout these recruitment processes. Of course they do. Who is to say that, upon hearing the fact that a trainee had "hedged her bets" and declared in four separate interviews that "this is the job in law that I really want" and that "I really see myself as a committed, enthusiastic [insert legal team here] lawyer", the partners decided that they would be best off saving a salary and holding off to a) advertise externally or b) recruit at a later NQ intake when someone who is solely interested in their team becomes available?

    The fact Travers were not guilty of discrimination in relation to the 12-month litigation contract also illustrates that it is not a firm wide problem. She was not chosen for that position as she was not the best candidate for it; not the fact that in all inevitability she would be absent for at least one third of the contract length (which in itself would surely have to be a consideration).

    Of course best wishes to Katie and good luck with her future career, but I do not think Travers would have risked such negative publicity and court costs had the partners been as discriminatory and inconsiderate as has been suggested on this forum.

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  • Katie Tantum's claim would have failed if Travers had presented a better excuse for reducing the two Real Estate NQ positions to one, e.g. citing a sudden change in work levels (which must have been relevant otherwise the firm would had to have recruited externally). Perhaps the ET did misinterpret the evidence in relation to this point and Travers will appeal. To tar the entire firm as sexist/discriminatory is nonsensical.

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  • Katie Tantum's claim would have failed if Travers had presented a better excuse for reducing the two Real Estate NQ positions to one, e.g. citing a sudden change in work levels (which must have been relevant otherwise the firm would had to have recruited externally). Perhaps the ET did misinterpret the evidence in relation to this point and Travers will appeal. To tar the entire firm as sexist/discriminatory is nonsensical.

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  • Katie Tantum's claim would have failed if Travers had presented a better excuse for reducing the two Real Estate NQ positions to one, e.g. citing a sudden change in work levels (which must have been relevant otherwise the firm would had to have recruited externally). Perhaps the ET did misinterpret the evidence in relation to this point and Travers will appeal. To tar the entire firm as sexist/discriminatory is nonsensical.

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  • Anon 8.45, your comment reads very much like it was written by the marketing team at Travers.

    It's strongly rumoured that Dickinson Dees used to try that trick. Look where they ended up.

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  • Probably the trainee was middle of the range - not bad but not great either - and they would have found her a place somewhere but for her pregnancy. As for the people defending Travers - anyone who thinks City partners behave in accordance with employment law needs to get a reality check.

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  • Some of the comments here read like they are posted by Travers insiders. No doubt there is something to some of what they say and there are usually shades of grey in employment claims. However, Travers are kidding themselves if they don't realise that institutional clients will be ill at ease over the outcome of the case, which leaves the firm looking pretty shoddy.

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  • The comments on this are EXTRAORDINARY. When news of the claim first came out, the comments on the article were all to the effect that the Claimant was silly for thinking that she could have a career at a firm like that and a family. As a (male) partner at a city firm, I was appalled by them and said so, but hardly anyone else did. Now everyone is criticising Travers. It just shows how fickle and quick to condemn the readership is.

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  • Re anonymous @ 20 May 11.21. Do you seriously think that "institutional clients" don't offload employees who have got pregnant as well? Go ask their human resources departments. Most of them won't give a stuff whether Travers have done the same.

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  • Like many law firms Travers have failed in many ways, showing that once again law firms are

    1) Out of date sexist institutions, with many women not making the final step and are disregarded for contracts because they have a husband (yes this has been heard in a selection panel)

    2) They think they are above the law, relying on the fact that if a case like this arises then even if they lose the biggest loser will be the claimant. A case like this will not reward Katie to the sort of financial reimbursement that she would have had had she worked.

    3) How poor law firms are at publicity. Even with all the Travers comments in here (we notice the long anon comment), Sometimes it is best just to shut up.

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  • So they think signing some document means they are not discriminatory?
    Only 10% of their partnership is female, why not 90%. Because of how they treat women of course and why it is "Andrew" and "Julian" taking decisions not a Jane and a Mary?

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  • Anonymous | 20-May-2013 11:45 am

    I wish Katie and her new child well, but perhaps some of the comments against Travers may be somewhat unfair.

    Katie was unsuccesful in 3 out of 4 of her applications, failing to meet the required standard in corporate, tax and litigation. That perhaps illustrates that she may not have been the high standard of NQ required today (or at least to a high enough standard to justify an NQ city salary). She may have been qualified enough and performed well in her reviews to date, but she maybe did not show signs of progressing to that next stage, which is a giant leap to take.

    Furthermore, partners talk throughout these recruitment processes. Of course they do. Who is to say that, upon hearing the fact that a trainee had "hedged her bets" and declared in four separate interviews that "this is the job in law that I really want" and that "I really see myself as a committed, enthusiastic [insert legal team here] lawyer", the partners decided that they would be best off saving a salary and holding off to a) advertise externally or b) recruit at a later NQ intake when someone who is solely interested in their team becomes available?

    The fact Travers were not guilty of discrimination in relation to the 12-month litigation contract also illustrates that it is not a firm wide problem. She was not chosen for that position as she was not the best candidate for it; not the fact that in all inevitability she would be absent for at least one third of the contract length (which in itself would surely have to be a consideration).

    Of course best wishes to Katie and good luck with her future career, but I do not think Travers would have risked such negative publicity and court costs had the partners been as discriminatory and inconsiderate as has been suggested on this forum.

    Not an employment specialist but sure 4th paragraph is an admission of guilt isnt it?

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  • I wonder if the trainee concerned had a daughter . If so she will one day be proud of her Mother who no doubt hopes that the professional world will be a more equal place when she grows up !

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  • Anyone who's worked for City firms knows that they are inherently sexist institutions. Many of the male partners are white, public school, Oxbridge, rugger bugger types, and they do genuinely view women - and other men who don't conform to this stereotype - as inferior species.

    The whole culture of the City is based on testosterone and aggression, albeit disguised under a suave and cool exterior. This attitude is just as prevalent in non-contentious work as it is in litigation. For a woman to succeed in this culture is extremely difficult, as it's an unfortunate fact of life that assertive women are seen by this type of man as unpleasant and `awkward', so that they don't receive the respect and co-operation to which they're entitled.

    Such men are, of course, intelligent enough to disguise their views (except in the exclusive company of their fellow fossils) and will quite happily sign up to every diversity and inclusion charter under the sun. But when it comes down to it if they can discriminate and get away with it they will.

    I've not the slightest doubt that amongst these types the unfortunate claimant is already being referred to as Katie Tantrum, and I'm afraid that instead of seeing her as a courageous seeker of justice many firms will have marked her card as a potential troublemaker.

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  • Given she walked out on a completion in her corporate seat (see previous articles) it's surprising she even made it to her final seat.

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  • The thing that strikes me is the obviously sexist remark even after the event from the Travers' spokesperson, by only mentioning WOMEN partners who have flexible working arrangements. Isn't it possible for men to have flexible working arrangements too? The implicit assumption here is that, of course, we are jolly decent sort of folks because we allow women to work flexibly. Until there is a trend for men to work flexibly - which requires law firms like Travers to realise that men are equally entitled to apply for flexible working, there will be discrimination against women by law firms like Travers.

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  • This is terrible PR for Travers and particularly for Andrew and Julian whose names will now be long remembered in the City as "discriminators". This should have been settled commercially and it is a wonder why Andrew and Julian subjected themselves to such shame by not doing this.

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