Tribunal finds account manager was subject to pregnancy and maternity discrimination

pregnancy and maternity discriminationA former business account manager at 52 Street Event Supplies in Barnsley has been awarded £37,310.05 for pregnancy and maternity discrimination, unfair dismissal and arrears of wages.

Heather Todd started working for the organisation in 2003. In 2022 she became pregnant with her second child and informed her company director, Shaun Collins, that she would be taking 39 weeks’ maternity leave and would return on 30 January 2023.

In April 2022, Todd expected her wages to increase to the national minimum wage rate, which had risen to £9.50 per hour. Her monthly pay should have been £902.97 but she was instead paid £808.72. Todd raised this with Collins before her maternity leave, but still received the incorrect amount and frequent late payments throughout.

Todd was then dismissed by email on 2 May 2023. The email she received about it stated: “I have reviewed your claims regarding working hours and holidays due in relation to those hours and found them to be inaccurate; you have also made direct threats in relation to moneys you inaccurately claim to be owed. After conducting an investigation into the misappropriation of funds, we have found that you have engaged in behaviour that is a clear violation of policy and is unacceptable. Your actions have breached the trust of the organisation. As a result of your misconduct, we have no choice but to terminate your employment with immediate effect.”

She appealed but Collins did not respond, or provide any paperwork or reasons supporting the dismissal. The tribunal found that he did not agree with the figures, suggested she had made them up and said the late maternity pay was because he was busy.

Employment Judge Rogerson said: “The lack of transparency, any procedure and the timing of dismissal were all very suspicious. The claimant was on maternity leave not working, so how and when did she commit any alleged misconduct at work? I do not find there were any reasonable grounds for dismissing the claimant for gross misconduct. There was no investigation and no opportunity provided to hear what the claimant might say in defence or mitigation.

“The decision to dismiss was outside the range of reasonable responses of a reasonable employer faced with these circumstances. The respondent dismissed the claimant without carrying out any disciplinary procedure, without identifying with any particulars of the alleged acts of misconduct, when it had occurred and how the claimant was responsible.”

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Of the funds awarded, £10,000 was for injury to feelings.

52 Street Event Supplies was contacted for comment prior to publication.