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Montreal, June 17, 2013--- In a case that could change how local employers treat their employees having child care needs, a working mother of three has taken her former employer, a well-known Montreal-based international company in the entertainment industry, to the Quebec human rights commission, for having failed to accommodate her child care and family obligations, and fired her as a result.

Audrey is an English-speaking professional with extensive experience in accounting and a working woman with a young family. Looking for better work-life balance she had left a higher-paying job and accepted a 30% pay cut as compared to her previous salary to work for a more creative company recognized around the world for its presentations.

She began working for her new employer in 2007 continuing work in her field of expertise of international personal taxation. During her five years in the position, the company experienced considerable growth; demands and the stress of the job increased, specifically in her department. Her workload had drastically increased by 2012 without appropriate increases in resources. She began to assume more managerial responsibilities which were out of the scope of her job description. In addition to her increasing workload and job demands she had to find ways to satisfy her family obligations as the primary parent to collect her children while working an average of 60 hours a week during their busy period.

However, there were factors that added disproportionate levels of work and stress on Audrey. She was the oldest team member, and one of the most experienced in the department. A new male manager was hired, to whom she reported and often related her family obligations and child care needs that required her to leave work early.

Since 2009, she had been leaving work, in the East side of Montreal, at approximately 4:30pm to pick-up her two children (all still under the age of five) from school and day-care, which was in the West side of town. In 2011, she came back from one-year maternity leave after giving birth to her third child. During the busy period, Audrey would return to work at 7:00 pm after picking up her three children from school and daycare and take them home. She would then continue to work until 10:00pm or later, and also come in every weekend during the busy period.

Despite the fact that on average, Audrey was already dedicating 55-60 hours a week to the company, she faced isolation and problems at work, in part due to her family obligations. Yet, it was only in the few months prior to her dismissal that her family obligations were raised at work as an issue. Her performance evaluation was negatively influenced by her struggle to balance her family and childcare needs with her increasing responsibilities and other administrative issues such as the lack of resources. Her new manager also accused her of being unavailable, not being a team player, and of not taking her responsibilities seriously enough.

These accusations and a formal warning were relayed to her once only without any progress or follow-up meetings. Her employment was abruptly terminated in the Fall of 2012.

In reading through the company’s posted policies, she noticed that her employer had no clear policy on family and child care accommodation and despite regularly making her needs known to her manager and other co-workers, no follow- up was initiated by her superior or by the human resources department.

A detailed policy on the matter would have conceivably provided the necessary accommodation of her childcare needs and create a positive work environment whereby each employee can be fully engaged and contribute. Without policies to address the real needs of working mothers, conflicts regarding expectations arise and has an impact on the quality of life of all employees.

This is one of the claims made by CRARR in a complaint of discrimination based on gender and civil or family status, in addition to material, moral and punitive damages for prejudice caused by discrimination. The complaint, filed on Audrey's behalf, was accepted by the human rights commission last week, which forwarded it to her former employer.

Audrey also filed a complaint of wrongful dismissal with the Employment Standards Commission, which will bring the case to the Labor Relations Commission.

Discrimination in employment based on family status and child care obligations is becoming important civil rights issues, especially for working women with young children. Last January, the federal human rights tribunal ruled that refusal to accommodate employee's childcare obligations is family status discrimination and awarded an employee of the Canada Border Services Agency significant material and moral damages.