Tribunal rules post-natal depression dismissal not discriminatory

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that a dismissal for absence caused by post-natal depression after maternity leave is not discriminatory.


The judgement relates to the case, Lyons v Jobcentre Plus, in which the former employee was dismissed after her maternity leave had ended because of long-term absence. 

She claimed for unfair dismissal, making claims of direct sex discrimination and maternity discrimination

Such treatments are only discriminatory under Section 18 (S18) of the Equality Act 2010 if they occur between the beginning of a pregnancy and the end of maternity leave.

In this case, the dismissal took place after the end of the employees maternity leave, therefore, could not amount to discrimination under S18.

The EAT upheld the employment tribunal’s decision that maternity discrimination should be rejected. There was no challenge of the findings that the employee was dismissed unfairly.

The judge said: “In our judgement, the claimant cannot rely on S18, and the employment tribunal’s decision on this point was correct.

“By S18(2)(b), a woman is discriminated against on grounds of pregnancy and maternity if, because of an illness suffered as a result of her pregnancy, she is treated unfavourably during the protected period, as defined by S18(6).

“While this claimant was found to have been treated unfavourably for a pregnancy-related illness, it is not in dispute that the relevant treatment took place only after the end of her period of maternity leave.

“The unfavourable treatment found to have occurred, including the claimant’s dismissal, occurred outside the protected period. She could not therefore complain of discrimination under S18.”