In the case of Miss Clara Jennings v Ms Davinda Kaur T/a Adhara Hair and Beauty: 1301985/2016 the Employment Tribunal held that the dismissal of a pregnant employee had been discriminatory, awarding her almost £23,000 in compensation.
The facts in Miss Clara Jennings v Ms Davinda Kaur T/a Adhara Hair and Beauty
Ms Jennings commenced employment with Adhara Hair and Beauty, a small hair and beauty salon, from 10 October 2015 as a senior stylist. Ms Kaur ran the salon and relied on Ms Jennings heavily for her experience as a stylist; the two had a positive and friendly relationship and Ms Kaur
On 26 March 2016 Ms Jennings attended work but brought her children with her, due to the absence of a childminder. Ms Kaur considered that Ms Jennings’ children were disruptive and spoke to her about it; Ms Jennings apologise.
On 28 March 2016 Ms Jennings began to suffer from a pregnancy-related illness and began a period of absence on 29 March 2018. Ms Jennings subsequently informed Ms Kaur on 6 April 2018 that she believed that she had been signed off work with a pregnancy-related illness for a further 12 weeks.
On 8 April 2018 Ms Myerscough, a long-standing client of Ms Jennings, attended the salon in Ms Jennings’ absence, to have her hair done. Whilst she was at the salon she taljed to Ms Kaur, and Ms Kaur informed her that it was hard to find reliable staff and difficult to run a business when people had time off due to their children being ill.
On or about 12 April 2018 Ms Kaur sent a letter to Ms Jennings terminating her employment was being terminated due to frequent, unplanned absences and because she had failed to follow the proper absence-reporting procedures. The letter concluded by stating that she was not required to work her notice, but did not address her right of appeal. Her dismissal took effect as of 14 April 2018.
Ms Jennings subsequently brought Employment Tribunal claims for pregnancy and maternity discrimination (section 18 Equality Act 2010) and automatic unfair dismissal (section 99 Employment Rights Act 1996), among others.
Ms Kaur defended the claims on the basis that the reason for Ms Jennings’ dismissal was nothing to do with her pregnancy, but was because of a number of absences from work.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal held that Ms Jennings’ dismissal was discriminatory and was automatically unfair.
Pregnancy and maternity discrimination
The Employment Tribunal found that Ms Jennings had proved facts from which it could conclude that her dismissal was an act of discrimination: that she had been dismissed only a few weeks after informing Ms Kaur that she was pregnant; that Ms Kaur had informed Ms Myercough on 8 April 2018 that she wished to only employ people without children; and that no meeting was held with Ms Jennings prior to her dismissal.
The Employment Tribunal further held that Ms Kaur had been unable to demonstrate that Ms Jennings’ pregnancy had not formed at least part of the basis for her decision to dismiss.
Automatic unfair dismissal
The Employment Tribunal held that the reason, or the principal reason, for Ms Kaur’s dismissal was for a reason connected with her pregnancy. It therefore upheld her claim for automatic unfair dismissal.
The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Jennings the following sums:
- Compensation for injury to feelings: £12,500
- Compensation for other losses: £4,514.62
- Uplift of 15% due to a failure to comply with the ACAS Code of Practice: £2,652.19
- Interest: £2,437.02
Our solicitors’ view on Miss Clara Jennings v Ms Davinda Kaur T/a Adhara Hair and Beauty
Chris Hadrill, partner in the employment department at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must ensure that they treat pregnant employees, or employees on maternity leave, fairly, and that they do not subject them to any detriments related to or because of their protected status. A failure to ensure equal treatment could potentially mean, as in this case, a claim in the Employment Tribunal is brought.”
The judgments of the Employment Tribunal in Miss Clara Jennings v Ms Davinda Kaur T/a Adhara Hair and Beauty: 1301985/2016 can be found as follows: