PWC loses flexible working discrimination case

19 November 2014

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has lost a sex discrimination case against an employee who wished to pursuework flexiblybut had his request rejected.

We are grateful to Employee Benefits for their analysis of the tribunal decision in the case of Pietzka v PricewaterhouseCoopers:

Erik Pietzka, who was a manager at accountancy firm PWC’s office in Cardiff, was told by his employer that pursuing the idea of flexible working would damage his career, while women in the same office had requests accepted.

He raised the issue of flexible workingin November 2010, seeking to work a three-day week because he was experiencing difficulties in his family life and wished to spend time with his daughter. Pietzka’s request was initially denied but it was later agreed that he could take one day off a week.

The employment tribunal (ET) heard that the employee who dealt with Pietzka’s applications was of the belief that flexible working hours for family purposes were more suited to female workers than male workers, and “found it difficult to accept that the claimant would wish to put family issues above work”.

During Pietzka’s time at the organisation, PWC won several awards for diversity and gender quality. It also has both men and women across the organisation that work part-time and flexible hours. According to the ET, however, this inclusive culture did not extend to one senior employee.

Employers have been legally obliged to consider both mothers’ and fathers’ requests for flexible working since 2002.