Mum's job offer was ‘pulled’ when employers found out children’s ages - we discuss with a legal expert

A legal expert has weighed in on what the ruling means for both parents and employers

Offer of employment letter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A mum has been awarded £90,000 in damages after a London workplace ‘pulled’ her job offer upon hearing she had young children - and a legal expert believes the case will change the game for working parents. 

Juggling working hours with parenthood is a difficult task. But what about those parents looking for new work? Whether they're looking for a fresh start, or want a more flexible working schedule after having kids - there are numerous reasons why parents may want to find a new job. But it appears that that's easier said than done. 

Mother-of-two Fong Fong Lee had just resigned from her job when her new employer, who had offered her a £68,500 a year role at R & F Properties QS in London, asked her 'out of the blue' during a Zoom meeting how old her children were. 

Lee told the employer that her oldest child was “four years old and that one was approaching one year of age.” The question, she said, had “no relevance to the issues in the meeting" and she was left in shock when, six days later, her job offer was withdrawn. 

Knowing her rights, Lee took the company to court and has now won more than £90,000 in her sex discrimination case against them. During the ruling, the court said they believed that Lee would not have been asked the same question about her kids' ages if she was a man.

The tribunal said, “She was the primary breadwinner in the family and had young children, including one under one year of age. Losing her job threw her into a state of panic, humiliation and upset due to the instability the unexpected news caused and made her worry about whether she should hide the fact she has young children from prospective employers.”

Speaking to, Tina Rahman, an employment law expert, HR professional, and founder of award-winning HR and employment law consultancy firm HR Habitat, said she believed that the case could prompt many employers to 'reassess how they manage parent workers in the workplace.'

She told us, "Stories like this build confidence in other women who have suffered similar injustices in the workplace. Working people know their rights now more than ever, and after seeing stories like this in the headlines, employees feel empowered to challenge the decisions of their employer if they believe they have been subject to discrimination."

She added, "If you think you are being treated differently for having children, approach your boss armed with this article. Request an open an honest conversation and ask for the minutes of the meeting.

"An employer asking questions about an employee’s children’s ages before subsequently dismissing them will always lead the Tribunal [should the employee seek legal action] to believe this was the reason for dismissal if no other substantial reason can be proven."

Being a working parent is a difficult no matter how old your child is. For one, parents of teens experience ‘less tolerance of family duties’ from employers  despite their older kids needing them more than ever. Plus, research has shown that working mothers earned 43% less than fathers in 2023. But it's not all bad news, there's also the ‘unexpected joy’ of returning to work after caring for kids for those who have taken time off for maternity or paternity leave - or, for Swedish grandparents, paid grandparental leave which the country has just introduced into law. 

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.