In a recent decision of the industrial tribunal, the claimant was found to have been discriminated on the grounds of her pregnancy.
The claimant was a part time travel agent. She alleged that when she announced her pregnancy she was subjected to unpleasant remarks. She was made to feel that her impeding maternity leave was a cause of great inconvenience.
The claimant made a flexible working request by email. She received no response and completed a flexible working request form which she left on her boss' desk. Her request was refused but no reasons given. She asked for the reasons based on business grounds.
The Respondent asked the claimant to join her at the back of the shop where she handed her a cheque and said it would be better if they parted company. When the claimant said that she wasn't in a position to leave her job the Respondent stated she was dismissing her. She also refused to give written reasons for dismissal saying that she did not "do all that legal stuff".
The subsequent letter of dismissal claimed the reasons for dismissal were gross misconduct and receipt of 4 verbal warnings.
An independent HR consultant was retained by the Respondent to conduct an "appeal". She concluded that it was not a fair dismissal, no proper procedure had been followed and recommended the claimant should be reinstated.
The tribunal concluded that it was an automatic and substantively unfair dismissal. She had received less favourable treatment on the grounds of her pregnancy and the Respondent discriminated against the claimant in its failure to give proper consideration to the claimant's request for flexible working and to give proper reasons of refusal. The claimant was awarded in excess of £36,000 including £5,000 for injury to feelings.
This case is a prime example of an employer ignoring employment legislation to its peril and highlights the need for the employer to seek expert legal advice in the area of employment law.