Bank Sued for Discrimination; Mother of Cancer-Stricken Baby Was Not Re-Hired

In 2011, Rachel Walsh faced the unimaginable: a child born with cancer.

The nightmare of needing chemotherapy for her infant was offset by the support of an understanding employer. Walsh was an assistant vice president at Barclays, the financial giant.

She told ABC News, “I had a sense of security during my [maternity] leave. I was so thankful. They seemed so understanding.”

But when Walsh was ready to return to work, that sense of security was shattered. Barclays had decided that her job was too demanding for her to handle; the bank barred her from returning to her old position.

It’s difficult to imagine a father being treated that way. As described by ABC, “This impressed Walsh as sexist. ‘She was assuming that because I was the mother,’ [Walsh] explains.”

Frantic for work, Walsh offered to take any available job. She claims Barclays told her there weren’t any, and that she recorded a phone conversation with the bank’s HR to prove it.

Walsh is filing a gender discrimination and breach of contract complaint against Barclays for $10 million.

Sadly, she is one of many women facing a sexist work environment in finance. An eerily similar story is unfolding at Deutsche Bank: Kelley Voelker claims she was “mommy-tracked” after returning from maternity leave. Voelker says the bank “directed bigger accounts to a male colleague, slashed her bonus and tried unsuccessfully to demote her to a marketing job,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Voelker filed suit. In September, she was fired. The challenges facing women in the workplace are disproportionate and unjust. As of 2008, women still don’t earn the same wages as men, making only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. Gender bias can be unconscious and still harmful: a 2012 Princeton study found that scientists hiring an unseen, hypothetical candidate offered $30,238 to a man, on average—and only $26,507 to a woman with an otherwise-identical resume.

Becoming a mother only invites more unfair treatment. In one week in September, the EEOC “filed four pregnancy discrimination related lawsuits and settled a fifth” according to the Huffington Post. One of the women involved lost her job while on maternity leave. Her firm told her no work was available, only to hire several men as the mother remained unemployed. This pattern of discrimination is disturbing, and reveals pervasive, pernicious sexism among employers.

Barclays is recently infamous for its involvement in the LIBOR rate-fixing scheme, one of the largest scandals in the history of finance. An MIT professor said that the fiasco “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scams in the history of markets.” The bank colluded with other banks to secretly manipulate a crucial metric of inter-bank lending, enriching itself by costing American towns billions of dollars.

Barclays is now mistrusted by millions of people. According to a British poll, the public viewed BP more favorably during the Deepwater Horizon disaster than Barclays was seen after the LIBOR fraud became known.

Rachel Walsh, the mother of the baby with cancer, has been forced to spend her savings, as well as money intended for a down-payment on a house. She has also received unemployment benefits—which Barclays fought, she claims.

Walsh’s child is expected to recover.

If you’ve faced discrimination at work, contact The Harman Firm today.