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 first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    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

    4.78 Average

    269 Reviews

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 days ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 month ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 month ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 month ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 months ago