In the case of Mushi v Bread and Tea Limited (ET/2202944/2019) an Employment Tribunal awarded the Claimant over £2,500 in compensation after it was found that she had been dismissed because of her pregnancy.
The facts in Mushi v Bread and Tea Limited
Mrs Mushi (“the Claimant”) commenced employment with Bread and Tea Limited (“the Respondent”) on 15 June 2017. Prior to the termination of her employment she worked as Barista at the Respondent’s Aldgate East cafe.
In March 2019 the Claimant informed her manager that she was three months’ pregnant, and informed him that her due date was 22 September 2019. She asked to be relieved of heavy lifting duties to her pregnancy. She asked her manager when she could start maternity leave and her manager informed her that she could start maternity leave whenever she wished.
On 14 or 15 April 2019 the Claimant sent her manager a text message confirming that she would like to start maternity leave in 28 days. There was no response to this text message. The Claimant stopped work on 15 May 2019, and shortly after this she received a letter from the Respondent’s pension company stating that her employment had terminated due to ‘resignation’.
The Claimant commenced an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, unlawful deduction from wages, and pregnancy discrimination.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal dismissed the unfair dismissal claim as the Claimant had not had two years’ continuous employment as of the date of dismissal.
The Tribunal, however, upheld the Claimant’s claims for unlawful deduction from wages and pregnancy discrimination.
In respect of the pregnancy discrimination claim, the Employment Tribunal held that the Claimant had been dismissed by the Respondent on 15 May 2019 for a reason related to her pregnancy, and that there was no other explanation for her dismissal.
The Tribunal did not award the Claimant loss of earnings, as she did not qualify to take a period of Ordinary Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay because she had not complied with the requirements of the relevant regulations. The Tribunal also declined to award future loss of earnings as it found that the Respondent company was likely to not be a going concern when she returned from maternity leave (as, at the time of the hearing, the Respondent company was in voluntary liquidation).
The Employment Tribunal awarded the Claimant the following sums as compensation:
- Injury to feelings: £1,500
- Interest on injury to feelings: £68.71
- Failure to provide a section 1 particulars statement: £661.80 (two weeks’ wages)
- Unlawful deduction from wages: £414.13
The total sum awarded by the Employment Tribunal amounted to £2,644.64.
Our solicitors’ comments on Mushi v Bread and Tea Limited
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take care to ensure that they treat pregnant employees fairly, otherwise they may face a successful, and potentially expensive, Employment Tribunal claim. Although the Claimant was successful in this case it may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory, as the Respondent company is in liquidation and may only be able to pay her a fraction of what she is owed.”
The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Mushi v Bread and Tea Limited (ET/2202944/2019) can be found here.