In the case of Miss G Anderson v Spar Duntocher: 4105236/2016 the Employment Tribunal held that Ms Anderson had been dismissed from her job because of her pregnancy, and ordered Spar Duntocher to pay her over £12,000 in compensation.
The facts in Anderson v Spar Duntocher
Spar Duntocher is a grocery store operating in Duntocher. The business is owned jointly by Arshad Sadiq and Amjid Sadiq.
Ms Anderson commenced employment with Spar Duntocher on 10 April 2016 as a sales assistant. She worked shifts at the business and her general arrangement was that she would work the early shift on Saturdays and Sundays (7am to 3pm), and a late shift on a Tuesday (3pm to 10pm). She generally worked 20 hours per week, although there were some exceptions to this.
In April 2016 Ms Anderson fell pregnant but she did not discover this until 14 May 2016. She was sick on this day and did not attend work (due to this); she attended work the next day but was sent home because she looked so ill. Ms Anderson next attended work on Tuesday 17 May 2016; by this time she had discovered she was pregnant and informed Arshad Sadiq that she was pregnant.
Ms Anderson had an accident at work in mid-June 2016 and was off work until 21 June 2016. On 31 July 2016 she suffered severe pelvic pain; she was due to work that day but was advised by the Maternity Support Unit at the hospital not to attend work. She informed Mr Johal at approx 12pm that day that she would be unable to attend work due to severe pelvic and stomach pain.
Ms Anderson subsequently received a copy of the rota for the next week’s work which indicated that she was not scheduled to have a shift. She therefore telephoned the shop to ask why, and the telephone was answered by Arshad Sadiq. He asked her what had happened with her previous shift and she explained that she had suffered pelvic pain and had contacted the Maternity Assessment Unit. Ms Anderson covertly recorded this meeting as she suspected her job might be at risk.
In the meeting Mr Sadiq informed her that her absences were an inconvenience to him and that he was going to have to let Ms Anderson go, as it was probably best for her and for the shop too. He stated that it was nothing personal to her, and that she was a nice girl. He explained that he was find her absences hard, as when she was absent from work the manager became annoyed and complained to him. He stated that he feared that her absences would become more frequent and that he didn’t have a big pool of staff, so was unable to cover absences. He further stated that she shouldn’t look for work until the baby was born and that he would re-employ her once the baby is born.
On 2 August 2016 Ms Anderson texted Mr Sadiq to ask him for a letter confirming her dismissal, and on 3 August 2016 Mr Sadiq sent her a letter confirming that she had been dismissed because she was “unreliable”. She appealed her dismissal but her appeal was rejected.
Ms Anderson subsequently brought an Employment Tribunal claim for pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Anderson v Spar Duntocher
The Employment Tribunal upheld Ms Anderson’s claim for pregnancy and maternity discrimination (section 18 Equality Act 2010), finding that she was dismissed because of her pregnancy and/or pregnancy-related illness.
In making its findings the Tribunal had to make key findings as to credibility, as Spar Duntocher was alleging that Ms Anderson was persistently off work sick and, on her part, Ms Anderson was stating that the number of sickness-related absences were exaggerated. The Tribunal found Ms Anderson to be a more credible witness in the circumstances.
The Tribunal found that Ms Anderson had proven facts from which an inference could be drawn that she had been dismissed because of pregnancy and/or pregnancy-related illness, and found that Spar Duntocher could not show there was a reasonable alternative explanation for her dismissal. The Tribunal also found that she had not been paid in respect of holiday she had accrued but not taken to the termination date.
The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Anderson compensation of £12,191.20, comprised of the following sums:
- Loss of earnings: £4,991
- Injury to feelings: £5,000
- ACAS uplift: £1,998.20
- Holiday pay: £202.30
Our solicitors’ view on Anderson v Spar Duntocher
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “The covert recording in this case, as well as Ms Anderson’s credibility, were key – if employees believe that they are being discriminated against by their employer then they should consider making recordings of any face-to-face meetings or telephone meetings so that a contemporaneous record of what happened is made. This isn’t always appropriate but can, in the right circumstances, be absolutely key.”
The judgment of the Employment Tribunal can be found here.