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Father wins sex discrimination case after part-time work request rejected

Pietzka asked the accountancy firm if he could take two days per week off work to look after his daughter, after his marriage broke down and his former wife moved across the country from Cardiff to Bury St Edmunds. Wanting to spend more time with his daughter, who was two at the time, he decided to reduce his hours at work because visiting her meant a four-hour drive.Initially, his requests for both flexible working and part-time work were refused. PwC later allowed him to take one day a week off. Moreover, Pietzka was told that moving to part-time work would damage his chances of promotion. Rob Lewis, the partner at the firm who handled his application warned him that his career prospects would be harmed. The same partner blocked his chance of promotion at his annual review. Nevertheless, women in the same office who made similar requests did not face such obstacles. After attempting two internal grievances processes with no success, Pietzka resigned and later took further action.The employment tribunal found that Mr Lewis “found it difficult to accept that the claimant would wish to put family issues above work” and held “a subconscious view that flexible working on family grounds was suitable for female employees but not male employees”. PwC appealed the decision, maintaining they had always acted reasonably regarding Pietzka’s request. The tribunal acknowledged that PwC had carried out extensive diversity training in recent years, and had won numerous awards for diversity and gender equality. It recognised that in this instance, the issue was one partner who held outdated views. Nevertheless, the incident is a reminder of the importance for businesses to observe diversity law throughout their organisations.Do you have a problem arising from workplace discrimination? Talk to us. We are experienced employment law specialists and can give you the expert advice you need. Call 01302 320621 or email employmentenquiries@athertongodfrey.co.uk

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