The former employees added:
Another example of hypocrisy was that from 2018, one-year contracts became the norm for AI employees. At the time, AI was actively criticizing the Hungarian law for allowing employers to provide short-term contracts to women, making it easier to fire pregnant women.
“To the outside world, we are working on women’s equality and Amnesty’s gender work was focused on women and the workplace,” said Burtejin Zorigt, who was AI Hungary’s gender programme officer and campaign coordinator in 2020. She posed the question: “Actually, we don’t renew the contract of a pregnant woman? Then I just can’t be a public face of the gender work at Amnesty.”
Another former employee still had not received her contract after six weeks at the organization.
The first clause of the contract stated that she must notify the AI management if she becomes pregnant or undergoes a “reproductive procedure.”
The contract also gave AI the right to request a medical certificate – though this was eventually cut from the final version of the document. Among the five women, two feel that they suffered from psychological and physical trauma at the organization.
The women also talked of a toxic work environment at AI: one of the senior managers had an aggressive leadership style that other managers adopted. According to the 37-year-old Zsófia Gere, she experienced gender-based discrimination when she returned to her job as AI’s office manager after her maternity leave in 2019. She said that,
during a routine performance review, one of her managers asked when she would quit breastfeeding, complaining that it would prevent her from attending overnight business trips. Moreover, the manager proposed that Zsófia Gere work part-time for a reduced salary.
She found a new position soon after and as she prepared to leave AI, her manager hinted that they had many friends at Zsófia Gere’s new workplace which was interpreted as a threat. Gere added that she was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement to not say anything about experiencing discrimination at AI and that this was not the reason for her quitting. In order to speed up the process of her departure, she agreed to sign this document which would allow them to fine her 2500 euro if she broke the agreement. According to the victims, the aforementioned manager also said that the office is not a therapy session and the mental well-being of staff is not the management’s responsibility.