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Alasdair Thompson, New Zealand CEO, Fired After Linking Women's Workplace Productivity To Menstruation, Childbirth

Ladies Room

First Posted: 07/06/11 12:12 PM ET Updated: 09/05/11 06:12 AM ET

The head of a major New Zealand employers' group has been fired after implying that women were paid less than men because they took more sick leave due to menstruation.

As the BBC is reporting, Alasdair Thompson of the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association (EMA) made the controversial comments on June 23 radio program. "Who takes the most sick leave? Women do, in general," he said during a debate on recent figures that showed New Zealand women were paid about 12 percent less than men. "Why? Because once a month they have sick problems. Not all of them, but some do. They have children that they have to take time off to go home and take leave of. Therefore it's their productivity. It's not their fault."

Thompson then went on to note, "I'm sorry, I don't like saying these things because it sounds like I'm sexist, but it's the facts of life."

Though Thompson reportedly apologized for the comments, that wasn't enough for EMA, which was quickly bombarded with calls to ax the CEO. “After having considered this matter for some time the board believes Mr Thompson is no longer able to continue as CEO of the organization,” EMA official Graham Mountfort said in a statement, according to the National Business Review. “We regret that Alasdair’s role with the EMA is ending in this manner, especially considering the contribution he has made over the past 12 years. However under the circumstances the board has had to make this difficult decision.”

New Zealand Women's Affairs Minister Hekia Parata told the BBC on Wednesday that people would be pleased there had been a resolution. "I think that it's been pretty clear from the response that the remarks made were unacceptable to a wide range of people and my own experience of talking to businesses and across the country is it was a generally felt view that they were unacceptable," she said.


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Filed by Curtis M. Wong  |