Friday, October 24, 2014

UK labor law is different, apparently

An interesting forward from an anonymous source in the UK: 
Male Laboratory Technicians, £17,000, Permanent, Guildford 
I am looking to fill two lab vacancies for a local pharmaceutical company. The company specialises in research and development and is going through a period of growth. This is a great opportunity to begin a scientific career.... 
...These positions are only open to male applicants, this is due to the exposure of teratogenic drugs which women should not use.
I believe this would be illegal in the US. The Johnson Controls case (women of fertile age working at a battery factory, barred from the production line) (oral argument here) has established that the employer could not do this. 


  1. Very interesting, I worked with retinoids in my PhD and we had these discussions too. Legal issues or not I think a serious discussion with any candidates is in order, the idea of getting a teratocarcinoma or having severe fetal abnormalities in the future is no fun at all.

    I know times may be hard and people need jobs, but seeing pictures of those things would have me out of there in a hurry. Quite glad to not be doing that work any more.

  2. And: even on UK standards, £17,000 p.a. is not a god salary.

  3. Yes we have provisions in our anti-discrimination statutes for 'occupational requirements' to allow gender discrimination in very select instances (this job would fit that provision). It is a practical matter that is usually used to promote positive action on recruitment for women, but it can be used for men too, clearly.

    But £17k to handle teratogens in the South East of England (the most expensive part of the UK) - you can keep it!

  4. Very interesting! I know there are exceptions in the UK labour laws, for actors and the like, and I guess this is one of them that I'd never thought of before. I mean, it makes sense...
    Except this is less than I get paid as a grad student in the arse end of cheap cost of living nowhere.

  5. There's a derogation in s7(2)(a) Sex Discrimination Act 1975, ( which provides, "...the essential nature of the job calls for a man for reasons of physiology..."

  6. In Japan, age and sex discrimination is not prohibited by law. A lot of other forms of discrimination are also not prohibited by law. In fact, I was going to post a picture from a recruiting catalog that shows which companies are hiring graduates. In the listings, it shows the job titles and then the next columns are how many men and women they will be hiring for each position. I was quite shocked.