Yasmin's direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination claim

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Direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work

Direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination is where you are treated less favourably at work because you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or recently given birth.

An example of direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work would be:

A solicitor was denied a promotion at work after she told her manager she would be going on maternity leave soon.

There have been numerous Employment Tribunal cases that make a claim for direct pregnant and maternity discrimination. We’ll look at one such claim below.

The background

This case was brought against a marketing agency after Yasmin was hired as a digital content strategist from January 2017 to December 2017.

After her probation period ended, she received feedback from her direct line manager where a number of issues arose, including not meeting deadlines and client communication.

Sometime after her meeting with her line manager, Yasmin informed her employer that she was pregnant. While her employer stated that he was congratulatory, she instead found his demeanor cold and comments worrying.

She recorded that he did not congratulate her and instead said “well that’s good news, isn’t it” in a non-celebratory tone. The discussion then turned to work matters where Yasmin expressed disappointment that clients weren’t able to get the budget needed. Her employer then said “there’s too many people [in her team] and not enough work, you know what that means don’t you”.

During a scheduled period of annual leave, Yasmin had been told by colleagues that her employer and manager had asked about her in a way to “dig up dirt” and questioned her abilities to do her job while she had been away.

She scheduled a meeting to discuss her treatment at work after she announced her pregnancy. She later found out that her manager had accessed her emails without her knowledge as a way to find out what the meeting was about.

While the meeting had been held and Yasmin had raised her ill treatment at work as a result of her pregnancy, her employer chose to end the meeting and reschedule it for the next day. During the next meeting, her employer chose to talk about Yasmin’s workload and performance, while waving off her concerns.

In a subsequent conversation, her employer questioned how the pregnancy was affecting her work and made comments that “some people think family is more important than work”, and that she may find part time work more beneficial.

She continued to work at the agency, all while continuing to receive feedback from her employer about her poor performance, including an incident whereby a client wanted to end their retainer.

In October, her employer started a disciplinary process. In an email to an HR consultant, it was made clear that her employer intended to dismiss her. In the next month, Yasmin found herself suspended with pay.

The disciplinary process continued on, with Yasmin unable to attend the hearing due to medical issues. She was dismissed for gross misconduct. While she had appealed the decision, the company chose to uphold it.

She ultimately brought on claims for direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The result

Yasmin’s claims for direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal succeeded.

The Tribunal found that she had received a series of negative comments about her pregnancy that spoke to being directly discriminated against.

The reasons given for her dismissal were misconceived as well. The type of conduct that Yasmin had been guilty of in the eyes of her employer was not connected to the examples of gross misconduct in their employee handbook.

She was awarded £23,120.48, plus £2,010.58 in interest.

Important things to remember about this case

It’s so important to document every incident if you’re going through an employment issue, like Yasmin. Because she documented everything, she was able to create a timeline that helped explain the discrimination she faced at work.

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