A few months back when I heard that Channel Seven Newsreader Talitha Cummins was taking on her workplace for unfair dismissal nine weeks into her maternity leave, I wanted to scream GOOOO GIRL!!!
This happens so often. Women fall pregnant, women lose jobs.
It happened to me five years ago as well.
About four months into my new role on a Sydney morning radio breakfast show, I fell pregnant. The show wasn’t doing anything spectacular in the ratings but it wasn’t in dire straits either (radio shows live and die by ratings).
When I fell pregnant I became really sick and needed some time off work. I took two weeks off and in that time EVERYTHING shifted. Before I had reached the 12 week mark of my pregnancy I thought it only ‘fair’ to tell my bosses why I was so sick. I told my workplace before I told my family.
One of my big bosses looked at me and said, “Well make sure you are ready to come back because I know someone who has miscarried.” I was so shocked I just said, “I’m okay”.
Then I sat in a room while three male bosses told me that because I was off for two weeks the audience would no longer be used to me talking, so I was just to support my two male co-hosts with their stories.
Essentially, sit and laugh and support. Whattttt??
I knew they wanted me gone, but they were going to have to fire me because I had just moved my life from Melbourne to Sydney. I worked hard and I had not committed a crime, I was having my first baby.
I was back on air for one week when my manager was told that I was no longer going to be on the show. My boss didn’t even tell me to my face that I had lost my job.
Not one boss explained anything to me, not one boss even slightly acknowledged what was going on. The doors were closed and I was out.
Five years on and I am still really angry because this bullshit is still going on. Women are being punished for having children all the time.
A big reason Show + Tell was started was so I could pull fabulous women around me and create a really supportive work environment. No one should be made to feel like they have done something wrong or let someone down because they are having a baby.
I haven’t seen those bosses since I left that radio station, to be honest I don’t ever want to again. I am still so angry about how it all went down, and I am angry at myself for not standing up for what was right. At the time I was scared, I felt if I spoke up my whole career would be over. I was wrong.
No one should be made to feel like they have done something wrong or let someone down because they are having a baby.
Talitha Cummins took a stand and in doing so, speaking up for all women who have been unfairly dismissed by launching legal action against Channel Seven.
Talitha said “I have never wanted any bad blood with my former employer, and I have tried to settle this matter in a manner that recognizes my rights under the law, unfortunately we have not been able to reach anything like a reasonable settlement.”
Before Talitha went on maternity leave she held the same gig at Channel Seven for three years. Only nine weeks into her maternity leave, she received a call from Seven News boss Craig McPherson to tell her that her contract had expired.
If Talitha wanted to return to work she would be offered a six month contract and be assigned the dawn shift, which means this new mum would have to get into work around 3am.
Talitha rejected this offer because she didn’t want a temporary contract and to do more hours for less pay. Also, this ain’t an ideal situation for a mum with a new baby.
Talitha also said, “The issue at stake is an important one, not only for me but for many women, as I’ve observed in practice. Many aren’t in a position to defend their workplace rights. I’m in the fortunate position where I can. I also have a child now and I feel it’s important to set an example for him about respect for women in the workplace.”
Talitha Cummins, you are doing the right thing. You are making an important stand for so many women. Me included.