Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the latest of our posts on cases from the Employment Tribunal archive, we examine the case of Benton v Care Needs Ltd ET/2406088/2010, a  pregnancy discrimination case.

Summary

Mrs Benton complained to the Employment Tribunal that she had been dismissed by her employer, Care Needs Ltd, because of her IVF treatment rather than (as asserted by the business) because of  a genuine redundancy situation. She also claimed that she had been victimised by the business because of a complaint she had submitted regarding treatment that she had been subjected to and, further, that she had been harassed by the owner and colleagues because of the IVF treatment and a miscarriage she had suffered.

The Employment Tribunal held that Ms Benton had been subjected to one incident of harassment, when she had been called upstairs by the owner of the business and berated. The Tribunal also found that the failure to provide her with a payslip was a direct result of her Tribunal claim and that she had therefore been subjected to victimisation.

The Tribunal held, however, that she had not been dismissed because she was, or might be, pregnant, but because of a genuine redundancy situation that existed at time, as evidenced by the closure of one of the business’ offices.

Factual background in Benton v Care Needs Ltd

Ms Benton commenced employment with Care Needs Ltd in July 2009 as an office assistant. In November 2009 she started undergoing IVF treatment and in December 2009 she asked for four days off work to undergo treatment, agreeing to take four days’ holiday. In January 2010 she unfortunately suffered a miscarriage and explained to work what had happened.

The following week Ms Burgess, assistant manager, told Ms Benton that should she wish to take any more time off work for IVF treatment she would have to take it as holiday. Ms Benton also noticed that she received less pay than usual that week and, after seeking clarification as to why, was told that she had taken more days than she had been entitled to. Ms Benton subsequently made a number of complaints regarding the treatment that she had been subjected to, including that shortly after her miscarriage she had been berated by the owner, that the owner had told her she looked ill and awful, that it had been suggested to her that the company was being kind in allowing her to take time off for IVF treatment, and that the owner referred to her as a “dippy twat” when she made a mistake.

In mid-May 2010 Ms Benton was called into a meeting and told that she was at risk of redundancy because the office she was based in was closing. In June 2010 Ms Benton was called into a meeting and told that she was being made redundant. After her redundancy Ms Benton asked for a payslip and a spreadsheet of her earnings but was told she could not.

Ms Benton made claims to the Employment Tribunal for direct sex discrimination, harassment related to her sex, and victimisation.

Employment Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Tribunal dismissed Ms Benton’s direct sex discrimination claim but upheld her claims for harassment and victimisation.

In respect of her direct discrimination claim, the Tribunal held that the real reason for Ms Benton’s dismissal was in fact redundancy, finding that the closure of the office pointed to a genuine redundancy situation. The Tribunal also found that the reduction of her pay following her IVF treatment was because of confusion about her holiday entitlement rather than detrimental treatment afforded to her because of her IVF treatment itself.

The Tribunal held that the owner berating Ms Benton shortly after her miscarriage constituted harassment, as the conduct was related to Ms Benton’s sex (as only women can have IVF treatment), was unwanted, and had the effect of causing an offensive working environment for her.

With regards to the claim of victimisation, the Tribunal held that the failure to provide Ms Benton with a payslip was victimisation, as the Tribunal held that the refusal to provide her with one was linked to the Employment Tribunal claim she had made.

Our solicitors’ comments

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “If an employee makes an allegation of discrimination and/or brings a claim in the Employment Tribunal then their employer should take care to ensure that it can justify any action (or omission) which might be deemed to be a detriment to the employee – a failure to take such care could, as in this case, lead to a potentially successful victimisation claim being made.”

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.67 Average

66 Reviews

Anonymous

As with All solicitors advice without consequence but understood and communicated my legal position

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Prompt, professional and excellent service.

Posted 1 week ago

Dominic C

Excellent service, prompt and helpful

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

I found Redman’s to be very efficient and got me the best deal available in the short time scale that was available.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Victor L

Very professional. Provided excellent advice on my Settlement agreement.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Professional from start to finish.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Oliver W

Excellent service provided by Redmans, will certainly consider using again.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Melanie H

Very professional and extremely personable service. Thank you very much.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

I found Chris to be very approachable and easy to speak with about complex matters. He took action quickly and his updates to me, as his client, were prompt. I would recommend Chris and the team at Redmans without hesitation.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

Good advice

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

Overall happy with the service provided by Chris and Rana.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris and Rana provide a great service, very informed, diligent and care about your result, would recommend Redmans

Posted 4 weeks ago

David W

A speedy efficient friendly service, I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors for processing Settlement Agreements.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

Both Rana and Chris were fantastic. From the first phone call I was confident my matter was in good hands. I was not disappointed. I would highly recommend Redmans. Thank you again for all of your support and advice.

Posted 1 month ago

Federico S

Great advices and communication. Through Redmana I obtained match more than what I thought. Highly recommended

Posted 1 month ago

Tom G

A good and efficient service with the required legal advice provided for a settlement agreement.

Posted 1 month ago

Francis T

The solicitor I used was Chris Hadrill, who I found extremely professional and I felt that he made me feel at ease, considering the subject matter he was assisting me with.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris provided excellent assistance with the negotiation of my settlement agreement. From start to finish, I was consitently updated and advised on the best course of action to take. I would highly recommend Chris and Redmans Solicitors.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

They are busy people but manage well so generally I would recommend them.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Very efficient and professional service from my first phone call making an enquiry. Timescales of the matter in hand were met and within the agreed budget. Would highly recommend Redmans

Posted 1 month ago

Lisa B

Really very good service, always available to answer questions, provide my with any information I needed to make informed decisions.

Posted 1 month ago