Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

In the case of Jarvis v Davies and Davies Estate Agents Limited ET/3323814/2016 the Employment Tribunal held that the Claimant, Ms Jarvis, had been automatically unfairly dismissed and discriminated against by being dismissed because of her pregnancy.

The facts in Jarvis v Davies and Davies Estate Agents Limited

Ms Jarvis commenced employment with Davies and Davies Estate Agents Limited (“Davies”) on 9 November 2015 as a junior negotiator. Davies is an estate agent with thirteen full-time employees, ten of whom are female and three of whom who are male.

On 1 February 2016 Ms Jarvis passed her probationary period and was promoted to the position of sales negotiator by her line manager, Mr Stuart.

Although Ms Jarvis initially performed well (selling the requisite number of properties expected of her), during the course of her employment various concerns were raised regarding her performance, including:

  • That on 23 March 2016 Ms Jarvis had inappropriately criticized Mr Reach, the sales manager, by describing marketing strategies he had been advocating as “a waste of time” (Ms Jarvis subsequently apologies for this)
  • That she was given an informal warning on 6 April 2016 on allegations that she had bullied Ms Begum, another member of staff
  • That she had on one occasion allegedly dressed inappropriately in the office by wearing a short-sleeve dress

On 7 April 2016 Ms Jarvis informed the company that she was pregnant.

On 13 April 2016 Mr Scales sent an email to Mr Davies (director of the business) confirming that he had disciplined Ms Jarvis on allegations of bullying. However, Mr Scales exaggerated the extent and seriousness of Ms Jarvis’ conduct in this email.

On 14 April 2016, Ms Davies (a non-executive director of the business), happened to use Ms Jarvis’ computer whilst she was away from the office on sickness absence (caring for her mother, having informed the business that her mother was ill in hospital with terminal cervical cancer, and that she was currently in a coma). Ms Davies mistakenly opened Ms Jarvis’ personal email account while using the computer and saw that Ms Jarvis’ mother had emailed her – this caused Ms Davies to be suspicious, and Ms Jarvis had previously informed the business that her mother was in a coma. Ms Davies became suspicious that Ms Jarvis might be lying about her pregnancy and proceeded to open a number of Ms Jarvis’ other personal emails.

On attending work the next day Ms Jarvis discovered that someone had accessed her personal email account and had read her personal emails (including emails dating back to 2014 regarding her wedding and that she had suffered a miscarriage). She note that the use of her computer had occurred between 8pm and 9pm the night before, and she became emotional, stressed and tearful. She came to the conclusion that it was only Ms Davies or Mr Scales who could have accessed her account, as she knew that they were the only employees in the office after 7pm the day before. She concluded that Ms Davies had read her emails but could not be sure.

The same day Ms Jarvis approached Mr Reach, marketing manager, and informed him that she believed that she had been treated differently by Mr Scales, Ms Davies, and Mr Rudolf (another manager) in comparison to her non-pregnant colleagues and gave examples of such incidents. She provided details of documents that had been accessed on her computer. Mr Reach contacted Mr Davies, explained what had happened and asked what he should do – Mr Davies said that Mr Reach should meet with Ms Jarvis immediately, ask her to go home while her claims of bullying were investigated, and take notes.

At 11am on the same day Mr Reach met with Ms Jarvis and explained that she would be suspended on full pay while he conducted the investigation into allegations of bullying. Ms Jarvis was upset and said that she would take legal advice. After being addressed on the matter by Mr Davies Mr Reach apologies to Ms Jarvis for using the term ‘suspension’. He stated that Mr Davies would meet with Ms Jarvis on 18 April 2016 to discuss her grievance.

On the same day Mr Davies canvassed the managers at the business to see whether they had any concerns regarding Ms Jarvis’ performance.

On 18 April 2016 Mr Davies met with Ms Jarvis, with Ms Davies acting as a notetaker. During the meeting it was put to Ms Jarvis that she had been given a formal warning previously for bullying and that she had not met targets; Ms Jarvis replied that she had met her targets and that she had not been given a warning. Mr Davies also questioned Ms Jarvis on her personal email account. Ms Jarvis stated that she was not willing to comment on this, apart from to confirm that her mother was in a coma. Ms Jarvis was concerned that the meeting was more akin to a disciplinary hearing than a hearing to consider her grievance.

On 19 April 2016 Mr Reach emailed Ms Jarvis to confirm that she should attend work on 20 April 2016, and that Mr Davies would meet with her on that day. Ms Jarvis replied the same day, stating that she was taking legal advice and that she did not wish to return to work until she had received such. Mr Reach replied to state that she must attend work, and the next day Ms Jarvis emailed him to state that she was unwell. She therefore did not attend work.

Without a further meeting to Ms Jarvis to discuss her absence Mr Davies sent her a letter on 20 April 2016 confirming that she was being dismissed on allegations of misconduct, including (among other things) allegations of bullying and that she had taken an unauthorized leave of absence on 19 April 2016.

Ms Jarvis subsequently brought Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal, victimisation, and pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Jarvis v Davies and Davies Estate Agents Limited

The Employment Tribunal upheld Ms Jarvis’s claims for automatic unfair dismissal, victimisation, and pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Automatic unfair dismissal (section 99 Employment Rights Act 1996)

The Tribunal held that no concerns had been raised that Ms Jarvis had been underperforming until after she had informed the business that she was pregnant. The Tribunal further held that Ms Jarvis was too ill to attend work on 20 April 2016, that Mr Davies knew that she was consulting solicitors regarding her treatment on the grounds of her pregnancy, yet he still proceeded to dismiss her without a disciplinary hearing.

The Tribunal came to the conclusion that the reason or principal reason was related to her pregnancy – the Tribunal did not accept that she was dismissed because of her performance as this was not an issue for either Mr Scales or Mr Reach.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination (section 18 Equality Act 2010)

The Tribunal held that two allegations of pregnancy and maternity discrimination would be upheld:

  1. That Ms Davies had accessed Ms Jarvis’ personal email account, breaching Ms Jarvis’ privacy – the Tribunal found that there must have been an ulterior motive behind Ms Davies spending 90 minutes accessing Ms Jarvis’ computer; and
  2. That Ms Davies had taken screenshots of Ms Jarvis’ computer with regards to Ms Jarvis’ pregnancy and miscarriage – the Tribunal found that this was a gross breach of privacy and related to her pregnancy

Victimisation (section 27 Equality Act 2010)

The Tribunal held that Ms Jarvis’ protected act (her complaint that she felt that she was being discriminated against) significantly influenced Mr Davies’ approach to Ms Jarvis (that he avoid her grievance and discipline her). The Tribunal therefore upheld her victimisation claim.

 

Our solicitors’ view on Jarvis v Davies and Davies Estate Agents Limited

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “It is extremely important for businesses to undertake fair and impartial disciplinary and grievance procedures, particularly if an employee has raised a grievance that they are being discriminated against. If businesses fail to undertake fair and impartial grievance and disciplinary processes then they could face discrimination and victimisation claims (as the relevant business did here).”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal can be found here

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

4.63 Average

54 Reviews

David W

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

Posted 40 minutes 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 4 days ago

Federico S

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

Posted 6 days ago

Tom G

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

Posted 6 days 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 week 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 week ago

Anonymous

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

Posted 1 week 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 3 weeks ago

Lisa B

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

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Offered good support and advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris reviewed and managed my compromise agreement swiftly, accurately, helpfully, and on budget. His input on key non-compete clauses was valuable, his communications were clear and concise, and he was always swift in responding. Highly recommended.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Gurbir C

Excellent legal advice service.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Tim

I found Redmans to be very helpful and efficient in conducting my case which was concluded in a timely and diligent manner

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

I found Redman Solicitors to be very good and worked very well to an extremely tight timescale. I would happily recommend them again especially Rana.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

I received excellent, knowledgeable and critically timely support from Chris regarding my settlement agreement, and would wholeheartedly recommend Chris in these matters.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Katelyn

The solicitor communicated well with me and made sure I understood everything. He did everything needed for my settlement agreement and tried to get the wording changed in my favour too.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Redmans provided excellent services

Posted 1 month ago

Sibel U

Excellent service

Posted 1 month ago

Peter S

I was very happy with the level of advise I received from Caroline Lewis, and a very professional service fron Chris, The advice given really helped me and I was comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. I would be more than happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 1 month ago

Derek S

I very much appreciated the help provided by Redmans in the settlement agreement agreed with my former employer.

Posted 1 month ago

Waseem M

It was the first ime I used Redmans Solicitors and to be honest, thety were amazing. Rana Tandon and Chris Hadrill were out of this world. They made the process as simply and smooth as can be. Thank you so much for all your support over the last week.

Posted 1 month ago