“This is the company that puts mascara on lashes and food on tables…This is the company that not only brings beauty to doors, but also opens them. This is Avon. The company that for over a century has stood for beauty, innovation, optimism, and above all, for women.” These are just some of the words in the mantra found on Avon’s homepage. However, if the information found in a lawsuit filed by one Caroline Ruiz proves accurate, this is also the company that fired an executive when she revealed that she was enduring a high-risk pregnancy. This is the company that showed Ms. Ruiz the door just three weeks after hiring her after she was rushed to the hospital for heavy bleeding and was told that continuing to go to work meant that she would likely have a miscarriage.
Even in the face of such a warning, Ruiz showed up to work the following week – and according to her lawsuit – was promptly fired the next day. In the off chance that management forgot what prompted her unscheduled use of leave, Ruiz reminded her manager of the reasoning behind her absence. It was then that she was informed that “your health isn’t my concern, but your performance is.”
According to the suit, remote work is actually quite common at Avon. In fact, Ruiz’s manager, Raj Nath, was no stranger to the practice. Still, after just three weeks of work and a medical emergency that could have cost the life of her unborn child, Ruiz found herself without a job.
The result is a complaint that highlights the fact that the “proximity between plaintiff’s hospital stay, request for a day off and to work from home, coupled with her disclosure of her high-risk pregnancy undeniably create an inference of discrimination.” Putting it another way, the result is a complaint that essentially says that Avon fired a woman it employed for putting the life of her unborn child above the company.
It is worth noting that despite its positioning and marketing, Avon’s senior management consists of just 27 percent women. As Ruiz’s title was that of Global Head of Procurement, it is unclear as to whether that percentage has managed to drop even lower.