HUB International was recently hit with lawsuit for allegedly terminating an employee because her children were too loud during virtual meetings.
For many working parents across the county, the closures that came about with the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many to begin working from home brought with it another crisis – lack of childcare. In many cases, parents had to quickly figure out how to juggle caring for the children while taking sales calls and participating in zoom meetings. Fortunately, many businesses were sympathetic to this new challenge, but some got fed up with their employee’s constant distractions. For example, Drisana Rios was working as an account executive for HUB International in San Diego, California when the pandemic hit, forcing her to begin working from home. At the same time, she had to care for her one-year-old and four-year-old. Unfortunately, she was eventually admonished and fired “for her children being too loud during conference calls.” As a result, she recently filed a wrongful termination suit against the insurance firm.
When commenting on her experience and the beginning of the pandemic, Rios said her “childcare options evaporated overnight.” She wasn’t alone in that. In fact, thousands of families suddenly found themselves without access to childcare back in March, and even today many childcare facilities who have opened are only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Daphne Delvaux, an employment attorney representing Rios was in a similar situation. She had to learn to adapt to working from home with children in the background, too, and said that “juggling her work responsibilities alongside caring for her young children was a little crazy and wild for all of us.”
According to the suit, Rios was allegedly admonished “for her children being too loud during conference calls.” When commenting on the incident, Delvaux said, “As a mother, as a working mother, I was outraged.” The suit notes that Rios began working for the insurance firm back in August 2019. She was “terminated at the beginning of June despite repeated attempts to explain the circumstances at home with her manager and HUB human resources.” Delvaux said, “We just expected a little bit of compassion and understanding for the fact that we’re in a global pandemic and we’re all doing the best we can.”
Instead of compassion and understanding, the suit alleges Rios’ manager repeatedly questions her work ethic. Delvaux said:
“The fact that we [mothers] show up at work means we left our children for this job. So, to question our loyalty, it’s outrageous and it’s a betrayal to all working mothers…This was not a performance-based termination…These comments were purely based on her manager not liking the fact that she has children…What they should have done is call this guy into their office and say, ‘Knock it off.’”
As a result of her ordeal, Rios is seeking damages for lost wages.