Case Law: Flexible Working

Employers should ensure they reasonably consider flexible working requests from eligible staff, after a former house manager at London arts centre, the Barbican, Nicola Adedeji, successfully sued the City of London Corporation for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.

Adedeji, who had worked at the organisation for more than 10 years, first requested to work flexibly in June 2006, in order to care for her two children, after her mother became unable to do so. This application was declined and she was informed the following month that no flexible working would be considered. She appealed against the decision, but this was turned down in September 2006.

The following month, Adedeji was signed off sick with work-related stress.

In February 2007, Adedeji’s employer again refused to grant her the right to work flexibly and informed her that her employment would be terminated if she did not return to work. Her contract was subsequently terminated in June 2007, and she left the Barbican’s employment the following month.

After suing the Barbican’s owner, the City of London Corporation, for indirect sex discrimination and unfair dismissal, an employment tribunal ruled in her favour in December last year. A hearing will be now held next month to determine how much it will have to pay in compensation.

Jasmine Johal, employment solicitor at Russell Jones & Walker, who worked on the case, said: “What this case highlights is a need for employers to properly consider flexible working applications. There are very few jobs that can’t be worked part time or flexibly. It’s about changing the culture employers have.”