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Woman sues employer saying she got fired because clients could hear kids in meetings

Newshub logoNewshub 10/07/2020 Crystal Wu
a person standing posing for the camera: Drisana Rios said she got fired because clients could hear her kids in meetings. © @moderncalimom / Instagram Drisana Rios said she got fired because clients could hear her kids in meetings.

A mother-of-two has sued her former employer, claiming she was fired because her boss got frustrated with her children in the background of work interviews.

Drisana Rios, 35, from San Diego, filed a lawsuit for gender discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination, after she was made redundant on June 2.

The self-proclaimed 'mommy' blogger had been working full time as an account executive for global insurance firm Hub International since August 2019. 

She had been working from home since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak, and at the same time home-schooling and caring for her four-year-old daughter and one-year-old son.

Rios shared on her blog, 'Modern Cali Mom' that despite how stressful the past few months had been, she had been working "tirelessly to meet the deadlines."

During work meetings, her boss repetitively told her that on business calls with clients, he did not want to hear her kids in the background, and that it was "unprofessional."

She attempted to reshuffle her toddler's nap time to the afternoon, explaining to the boss she could answer client calls from 1pm-4pm without her children disrupting.

The boss apparently ignored her schedule, and continued to arrange calls around lunchtime, "when both my kids were hungry and impatient."

Rios said in her blog that despite the fact she had no other complaints from clients, she still received "constant harassment" from her boss.

"I continued to perform well with no complaints from my clients," she said. "I was meeting the deadlines and getting the work done. I worked the hardest I ever have in my entire career."

On June 2nd, she arranged a call with HR to find a solution. HR responded "abruptly that I was clearly not happy and that we should part ways."

"I was in complete shock," she said. "HR was supposed to have my back."

Rios said the response from HR was that they were experiencing a reduced revenue due to COVID-19. She called it a "inconsistent excuse to cover up their illegal motivations."

Rios filed the lawsuit shortly after she got made redundant, and is seeking unspecified monetary damages from Hub International, including back pay and compensation for mental and emotional distress.

"How does a company who preaches that they care about their parent employees fire one who performs well consistently?"

In a statement to the New York Times, a spokesperson for Hub International declined to comment on the case.

"While we can't comment on pending litigation, Hub is proud to have successfully transitioned 90 percent of its 12,000-plus employees to working remotely from home throughout the Covid-19 pandemic," the spokesperson said.

Rios hopes writing her experience on her blog will raise awareness of gender discrimination and bias against mothers. "Hopefully one day," she says, "mothers will be respected at work."

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