Pregnancy discrimination payout

An Employment Tribunal has ruled that an employee was treated unfairly by her employer after her manager told her that she should resign because of her pregnancy and pregnancy-related illness. Additionally, the tribunal found that the company had discriminated against her after changing her hours and work location when she sought to return from a period of pregnancy-related absence.

The employee worked from 9am to 3pm, and then from 4.30pm to 5.30pm from home. This was agreed in her offer letter. In practice, this arrangement did not work out as the employee needed access to the computer in the office to work efficiently. However, the employee told the tribunal that the flexible working arrangement only changed when her employer was informed of her pregnancy, after which she was required to work in the office full time.

Evidence was presented to the tribunal that the employee had pregnancy complications and it was only in a conversation in which she informed her employer that she needed to attend hospital, that her pregnancy was revealed. There were several more appointments in the early stages of her pregnancy which caused her to have time off work.

The manager gave evidence to the tribunal that he had planned to change his employee’s hours and working from home arrangement earlier that year and had drafted an email to send to her raising the issues, but after a discussion with another member of staff did not send it.However, the tribunal found no evidence of any clear instruction or requirement, or even a decision, to seek to formally change the employee’s working hours. The tribunal accepted the employee’s evidence that, if she had been told that was what was required of her, she would have told her employer that she was unable to do so because of her childcare commitments.

The employee was then told that she had been selected for redundancy, the timing of which the tribunal found consistent with her account of being told that she should resign if she was not able to attend the office during the hours required by her employer. In short, the tribunal found that the employer would not have taken this action if the employee had not told him that her absence was pregnancy-related.

The Judge found that if the employee had not been off with pregnancy-related illness, the requirement to work in the office between the hours of 9am to 5:30pm would not have been imposed on her. There was no evidence that the company intended to take any steps to change her working arrangements until she was off sick for a pregnancy-related reason.

The employee was awarded £18,405.97 for loss of earnings and injury to feelings, plus uplift and interest.

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