How Chris Hadrill successfully represented a client in her claim for pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the Employment Tribunal on a ‘no win no fee’ basis and secured a settlement of £37,500.
Anna started work at a computer games company (“the Company”) in January 2013 and went on her first period of maternity leave in May 2015, returning to work in June 2016. Her maternity leave was paid on an enhanced basis, effectively meaning that she received six months’ full salary for her period of maternity leave (as well as her full complement of statutory maternity leave).
In September 2016 Anna discovered that she was pregnant and informed the Company of this fact; she said that she intended to go on maternity leave in February 2017. After she informed the Company of her pregnancy the owner of the Company (“AB”) started to make comments to her about the fact that she was due to take another long period of maternity leave on full pay, and started to become aggressive with Anna over minor issues.
In November 2016 the Company informed Anna that it was undertaking a redundancy exercise and that she might be dismissed from her employment as a result; she was then informed later in the month that she had been selected for redundancy (subsequent disclosure of documents relevant to the Employment Tribunal claim showed that Anna’s selection for redundancy had been pre-determined (i.e. that she had been chosen for redundancy before the process had started)). In December 2016 AB informed Anna that she was being dismissed for gross misconduct on the basis that she had allegedly tried to defraud the Company (allegations which Anna denied). Anna appealed her dismissal but AB refused to hear her appeal.
As a result of her dismissal Anna suffered from stress and depression. She was unable to get a job after she was dismissed and suffered a considerable loss of earnings as a result.
The law relating to pregnancy and maternity discrimination
Under the Equality Act 2010, employees can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal if they believe that they have been discriminated against or victimized because of their pregnancy or because they have taken, are taking or intend to take maternity leave (or, indeed, any other ‘protected characteristic’ (see this article for an explanation of what a ‘protected characteristic’ is). Potential claims include the following:
- Section 13 Equality Act 2010 – to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal for direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination if they believe that they have been treated less favourably because they are pregnant or because they have taken, are taking or intend to take maternity leave (this would normally be a direct sex discrimination claim)
- Section 18 Equality Act 2010 – to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal for pregnancy and maternity discrimination if they believe that they have been subjected to unfavourable treatment because they are pregnant or because they have taken, are taking or intend to take maternity leave (“pregnancy and maternity discrimination”)
- Section 27 Equality Act 2010 – to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal for victimization if they believe that they have been subjected to a detriment because they have, for example, threatened to make a claim for pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the Employment Tribunal
What we did
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, represented Anna on a ‘no win no fee’ basis in her Employment Tribunal claim against her former employer, advising her to bring claims for pregnancy and maternity discrimination, victimisation, and unfair dismissal. Chris also advised Anna to seek compensation for loss of earnings, injury to feelings, aggravated damages, and personal injury.
Chris dealt with the procedure of the claim and represented Anna throughout the claim, dealing with the Employment Tribunal and negotiating the matter directly with the solicitors that the Company instructed it to help it defend the claim.
The Company made a number of offers of settlement as the case proceeded, starting with an offer of £2,000, rising to £20,000, and then an offer of £37,500 eight weeks before Anna’s full merits hearing was due to commence at the Employment Tribunal. Settlement agreement terms were then agreed, under which Anna would receive the agreed sum of money and a reference (as well as the usual confidentiality and non-derogatory clauses).
Chris Hadrill, the employment solicitor who represented Anna in her matter, made the following comment on the case: “It was a pleasure to represent the client in this matter, and we were delighted with the outcome – employers must ensure that they treat pregnant employees fairly and they must not subject employees to detriments because they are pregnant or intend to exercise their legal right to maternity leave.”