Female head coach demoted after returning from maternity leave

Mum of Andy and Jamie, Judy Murray has accused a Scottish tennis club of sexism after the head coach returned from maternity leave to find that she had been demoted.

Giffnock Tennis Club, who charge upwards of £636 a year for membership, demoted coach Stephanie Norris and reduced her hours after she returned from her maternity leave. Norris, 31, has already started a legal action against the tennis club. She now has the backing of Judy Murray, who is the mother of two boys, namely Andy and Jamie.

Mrs Murray tweeted about the young head coach at one of the biggest tennis clubs in Scotland returning to work after giving birth to a baby, only to find that without consultation her hours had been reduced and she had been demoted. Mrs Murray went on to describe the incident as ‘everyday sexism’.

Originally Mrs Murray opted not to name the club, but it soon became clear that she was talking about Giffnock Tennis, Squash and Hockey Club, East Renfrewshire. The tweets drew a flood of replies from Mrs Murray’s Twitter followers.

Tennis Scotland, the governing body of the sport has also ordered an investigation into the case. Miss Norris has already set the wheels in motion with her case at the Employment Tribunal Service.

Miss Norris, who was recently married, has spent the last six years working at the club. She claims that she was forced to accept reduced working hours. Additionally, she lost her role as head coach after she returned from maternity leave. Norris declined to comment because the case is ongoing.

It was confirmed by the club that a preliminary tribunal hearing took place very recently. The club declined to comment further, as the firm of solicitors who is representing them has advised them not to publicly speak about the case.

Club members were surprised when they found out about the employment tribunal case. They had no idea what had happened, although they had wondered where Miss Norris had gone. She seemed to have just disappeared and they assumed she had decided not to come back to work.

In April Miss Norris was interviewed by a local newspaper. She openly talked about her role as head coach for the Ardgowan and Fort Matilda Clubs, and as tennis development officer for the area. At the time of her interview her daughter was seven months old.

A spokesman for Tennis Scotland stated that they had not been approached by the club or the coach, but they are seeking clarification from the club about the issue. Tennis Scotland wanted to make very clear that they are committed to equality in both the organisation and among the members.

Tennis Scotland went on to say that they wanted to cultivate their position as being in the forefront of equality for sports in Scotland. Tennis Scotland works with many partnerships including the ‘She Rallies’ programme which was started by Judy Murray.

The spokesperson concluded by saying that it is worth noting that 42% of Tennis Scotland’s members are female. The strategy of the organisation is to continually improve equality, diversity and inclusion in all levels of sports.




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