In the case of Ms H O’Brien v Circles Montessori Day Nurseries Ltd: 3300306/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that the claimant had been discriminated against because of her pregnancy, awarding her almost £9,000 in compensation.
The facts in Ms H O’Brien v Circles Montessori Day Nurseries Ltd
Ms O’Brien (“the Claimant”), worked as an assistant manager at Montessori Day Nurseries Ltd (“the Respondent”). In August 2016 the Claimant informed the Respondent that she was pregnant, and asserted that after this she was made to feel unwelcome should she decide to return to work or even continue working. The Claimant also gave evidence that the Respondent had, after she had notified it of the fact of her pregnancy, recruited an assistant manager on a permanent basis without the Claimant’s knowledge or input; this was the same position that the Claimant held and she was not told that this person was being recruited as maternity cover. She therefore assumed that she was being replaced, a feeling that was supported by the fact that she was not given the opportunity to attend staff meetings in November 2016 and felt isolated form her colleagues.
In an email dated 6 December 2016 Ms Lucas, the owner of the Respondent, wrote an email to the Claimant alleging that the Claimant had been pregnant when she commenced employment. This was, in effect, inferring that the Claimant had deceived Ms Lucas when she has commenced employment.
The Claimant subsequently brought claims for pregnancy and maternity discrimination, as well as unlawful deduction from wages, against the Respondent.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal upheld the Claimant’s claim for pregnancy and maternity discrimination and unlawful deduction from wages (the Respondent previously having failed to submit a defence to the claim, with default judgment therefore being made in the Claimant’s favour).
The Employment Tribunal awarded the Claimant £8,960 in order to compensate her for the injury to her feelings (comprised of £8,000 in respect of the award for injury to feelings and £960 in respect of interest on that sum).
Our solicitors’ view on Ms H O’Brien v Circles Montessori Day Nurseries Ltd
Chris Hadrill, partner in the employment department at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take care to treat employees fairly, regardless of any protected characteristic that an employee may have – a failure to act in a fair and equitable manner could, as in this case, result in a potential claim for discrimination being made (with substantial compensation potentially being awarded).”
The judgment of the Employment Tribunal in Ms H O’Brien v Circles Montessori Day Nurseries Ltd can be found here.