Google Sued Over Quadruplet Pregnancy Bias

Source Title:
Former Google Exec Files Suit Over Alleged Pregnancy Discrimination
Story Text:

Now there's a headline that'd give any PR exec the screaming heebie geebies. Gary points to an article entitled "Suit accuses Google of pregnancy bias" in the NY Newsday that details a suit filed [pdf] by Christina Elwel, former director of national sales against GOOG over alledged pregnancy bias and subsequent career damage. She is/was pregnant with quadruplets.

Over the next year, according to her suit, Elwell, 35, of Manhattan, would see her position deleted from a Google organizational chart, a promised lesser role rescinded and filled by a man she had hired, and her career derailed by a series of demotions and a firing. The suit says she was branded a human resources "nightmare" by her boss, Timothy Armstrong, Google's vice president of national sales, who is also named as a defendant in the suit.




In this day and age, this sort of thing still happens?
Whoda thunk it!

~ just returned from my third maternity leave.


...she just sucked at her job?


If she "just sucked at her job" there are procedures they could have gone through that would not have ended up with this situation?

Looks quite senior to me

Speakers at March 2004, SES Conferenceinclude Christina Elwell, National Sales Director, Google

I would have thought at that level she would have a fair number of shares as part of the floatation of Google.

with all the money Google

with all the money Google have I really don't see they'd have demoted her without good reason. It's not like they'd have struggled to find her salary while she was coping with things.

This is a little like those 'sacked for blogging' stories imho - it could be Google being terrible employers or it could be the employee deserving to loose their job.

I tend to feel Google wouldn't be that stupid - but then sometimes they do surpass themselves....


Not necessarily.

The title "director" is not the same as in England. A director of marketing in england can most likely sign a cheque, a director of marketing in US is a glorified office monkey.

Not the same in all companies for sure, but it's worth mentioning.

Even in UK

"Account Director", "Art Director", "Creative Director" .. not necessarily proper "business directors"

Maybe she didn't suck, but...

It's unfortunate that companies these days have to be afraid to fire or demote women, pregnant women, minorities, the aged challenged, those with disabilities, obese people, and the list goes on and on.

Not saying that discrimination and undue firings/demotings don't occur, but sometimes a person just sucks and deserves to be fired or demoted. These days you're pretty much looking at a law suit, however, if you do that.

Which of course makes companies afraid to hire people who fit those profiles to begin with, and that opens up another whole can of worms.


A sound company will have on staff or retainer a good HR person. A competent HR person will A) Know employment law B) Have proper procedures in place that match law and best practice C) Make sure those procedures are followed

If the employee and employer are both clear about what is expected, eg. performance criteria, assesment and review procedures, disciplinary procedures, there should be a clear audit trail and nobody in any doubt as to what has happened and what has been done about it. If in this particular case she wasn't up to scratch and the company had its house in order they will be able to point to documentation that shows her consistantly not matching up to what was expected of her in her targets and meetings where this was addressed.

Unfortunately what happens more often is people are given woolly job descriptions, feedback is patchy or are they are randomly ignored/shouted at/patted on the head and then one day out of the blue told their role has changed or gone or whatever. It then comes down to two people arguing about what they perceive to be the case.

It is a common idea boosted by the media that minorities are on a gravy train due to these sorts of cases but I doubt anyone here really knows of an actual case in reality.

it's not a gravy train issue Chris.

but it is a simple truth.

Look, the poor woman had a terrible time, she lost three babies, she was probably extremely distraight and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she was unable to do her job.

As far as I can see there's no point there where she claims Google tried to pay her less, simply that they 'demoted' her to the extent that it upset her enough to claim constructive dismissal.

They could have been treating her like shit. Or they could have been genuinely trying to make her life easier and to remove her from a position where she was making mistakes. If you had an employee who was mucking up on a daily basis for whatever reason you'd try and remove them from the position where they could damage your company, even if you had every sympathy for the reason.

Employment law in the UK is

Employment law in the UK is very biased in favour of employees. I suspect it's not much different in the US. A company just can't win. No matter how good your HR staff, no matter how thorough and legal your procedures and practices the employee can still take you to court/tribunal. Even if the employee hasn't got a shred of a chance of winning the company still loses because they can't usually recover their legal costs*. Companies often settle purely to avoid the expense and disruption caused by a court case - nobody pays your senior managerial staff for hanging around a court room.

If I take an employee on with a contract specifying one month's notice either side it really means that I have to give him one month's notice (or salary in lieu) if I don't need him/her anymore but s/he doesn't need to give me any notice at all.

*(If you have insurance for this it works like any other insurance: Make a claim and your premium goes up... so it's still an expense/loss on your P&L)

Employment law in the UK is

Employment law in the UK is very biased in favour of employees. I suspect it's not much different in the US.

Yes, you could not be more wrong. Labor law in the US has been very one sided toward the employer for the last twenty years. Big Business has spent billions in America destroying Unions and reducing any political power that the labor movement had.

Current Non-Union "unskilled" labor* in the US are for the most part illegal aliens that have no rights, earns less than 1/5th of the poverty level and are treated like slaves {wage slaves - they need to work everyday so they can eat everyday).

The Real America ain't what you think it is.

* I added the "unskilled" after the fact.

Current Non-Union labor in

Current Non-Union labor in the US are for the most part illegal aliens

Not quite correct. Current non-union labor in the US is basically almost everybody who works. As of 2004 only 12.5% of workers belonged to unions.


Non-Union "LABOR" is quite different than Non-Union "Skilled Labor" and is usually considered to be "Unskilled" Labor.

This again is quite different than, Non-Union "Technical" Labor or Non-Union "Clerical" Labor.

> Non-Union "LABOR" Please

> Non-Union "LABOR"

Please don't rub in the fact that the Americans get away with mis-spelling "labour" :)

"Labor" is meant to be

"Labor" is meant to be inclusive of all: skilled, non-skilled, tech, etc. The meat is that only 12.5% of workers are members of unions.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Union Members Summary

In 2004, 12.5 percent of wage and salary workers were union members

And of course, when you do factor in all the undocumented laborers doing the really, really hard work, then that 12.5% drops quite a bit more.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.