UK: NGO denounces the abuse of non-disclosure agreements by companies in maternity discrimination cases

Author: Laura Bates, Guardian (UK), Published on: 23 January 2019

"Pregnant then screwed: how gagging contracts are used to silence sacked mothers", 22 Jan 2019

...In the UK, an Equality and Human Rights Commission report estimated in 2015 that 54,000 women a year lose their jobs as a result. But the full picture may be masked by the widespread abuse of NDAs…

According to Joeli Brearley, founder of the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, NDAs are very common in pregnancy- and maternity-discrimination cases. “There are many well-known companies who use them regularly to cover up mistreatment of new mothers in the workplace….the public would be very shocked if they knew what was going on behind the closed doors of some of the most well-known and loved brands in the UK…”

Pregnant Then Screwed runs a free legal advice line (helping on average 350 callers a year) and a mentor scheme to support women taking legal action against employers. In the past few months, it has carried out a survey of 260 women who had signed NDAs after experiencing pregnancy or maternity discrimination. More than 90% said they felt signing an NDA was their only option. A shocking 70% of respondents said they felt signing the NDA had had a negative impact on their mental health…

Seema Gill, an employment lawyer for My Business Counsel,…points out that simply trying to abolish NDAs is not necessarily the answer, as victims are sometimes keen for protection from reputational damage as they try to find a new job in a marketplace prejudiced against women who dare to stand up for themselves…

Pregnant Then Screwed has started a petition to extend the time limit for maternity-discrimination tribunal cases from three months to six months, giving women more time to consider their options. It is also calling on the government to set up a central monitoring body for NDAs…

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