Veronica Wong was a sales manager for a Vancouver yoga-wear company. She oversaw a team and sold bulk orders to her own clients. After three years at the company, she was happy with her position, her pay and her boss. She also wanted to have a baby.
“Don’t worry,” the company’s owner told her when he found out that she was pregnant. The two worked out a plan: Her boss would hire an interim sales manager, who would transfer to another team when Wong’s mat leave ended. For her part, Wong, now 33, promised that when she returned she would resume most of her travel duties. She worked up until the day before her January 2009 delivery. She felt secure, knowing her job would be there for her when she got back. “You can transition slowly,” her boss said about her eventual return.
A year later, Wong’s comeback did not go as planned. Her sales accounts weren’t given back. Her managerial responsibilities were gone: her replacement continued to supervise the other sales reps. Worst of all, she was moved from a salary to an hourly wage. This adjustment, combined with the loss of her sales accounts, shrank her pay by over 60 percent.
“I understand that it was a small company and things shift,” Wong says. “If my duties changed, that’s okay, but things need to be on an even keel to what it was like before.” She sent an email to her boss, explaining her issues and asking to work together towards a solution.
“I feel like you’ve lost your motivation,” he replied. “You chose to have a family and not a career.” Wong then had a series of arguments with him, demanding to at least have her benefits reinstated. In June 2010, five months after her return to work, she was fired.