Discriminatory comments during pregnancy announcement

A pregnant NHS administrator was discriminated against after her manager asked if her pregnancy was planned and if the cost of her maternity leave would come out of the team’s budget.

The employment tribunal ruled that these comments were “objectively inappropriate and upsetting” and “manifestly made because of the claimant’s pregnancy”. It found that the comments were made because the line manager was frustrates when told of the pregnancy in a meeting that had been called to let the employee go due a reduction in funding for the post since her recruitment, a few months before. The manager saw the pregnancy as a barrier to dismissal and spoke out of frustration.Regardless the line manager gave the employee four weeks’ notice of her termination, citing insufficient funds to retain her.

The employee brought complaints of discrimination and harassment on the grounds of pregnancy, race and religion, as well as a claim of unfair dismissal. The Judge said that the line manager’s comments – a direct reaction to the employee’s announcement of her pregnancy, were discriminatory.

However, the tribunal ruled that the employee had been fairly dismissed because the reasons for terminating her assignment were budgetary pressures. So even though the dismissal was deemed to be fair, the employer will still have to make a compensatory payment for its discriminatory remarks. A remedy hearing is still to be held.

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