Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

In the case of Ms K Barnes v Douglas Leisure (North West) Ltd T/a The Wiend Bar (in Liquidation) and others: 2423941/2017, the Employment Tribunal held that a member of bar staff was dismissed because of her pregnancy, rather than because she was redundant or because she had engaged in misconduct.

The facts in Ms K Barnes v Douglas Leisure (North West) Ltd T/a The Wiend Bar (in Liquidation) and others

Ms Barnes started working at Douglas Leisure (North West) Ltd t/a The Wiend Bar (“the Bar”) in November 2015 as assistant manager. Mr Clayton and Mr Douglas were two of the four directors of the Bar and the majority shareholders, each having a 45% shareholding; Mr Douglas also assumed personal responsibility for the lease of the Bar premises and funded the refurbishment costs.

The Bar was originally projected to turn over up to £11,000 per week, but was only achieving approx £6,000 per week instead. As time went on Mr Douglas and Mr Clayton decided to cut costs, cancelling the Sky subscription and ordering staff to keep a close eye on costs.

In May 2016 an employee was dismissed as ‘redundant’ because a customer made a complaint about her.

By March 2017 Mr Clayton and Mr Douglas were considering making Ms Barnes redundant in order to improve profitability; however, Mr Clayton persuaded Mr Douglas that they should not make Ms Barnes redundant – this was in part because Mr Clayton was due to get married shortly, and he wished for Ms Barnes to cover his shifts at the Bar whilst he was on honeymoon.

In May 2017 the Bar employed two new staff on a part-time basis.

On 20 June 2017 Ms Barnes sent Mr Clayton a message with a picture of a positive pregnancy test. She also sent a message jokingly asking what she should do next given the fact that she was pregnant. Mr Clayton replied “laughing” and he then messaged her “gonna push you downstairs”.

On 25 June 2017 Mr Clayton informed Mr Douglas of Ms Barnes’ pregnancy.

On 29 June 2017 Mr Douglas was asked by a third party whether the Bar would be closing soon, as they had attended the Bar recently and there had not been much stock on show. On 30 June 2018 Mr Douglas attended the Bar and found that there was very little stock on the premises. He spoke to Mr Clayton who blamed Ms Barnes for the lack of stock, as she had allegedly overslept and missed a delivery.

On 6 July 2017 Mr Douglas had a telephone conversation with Ms Barnes – in this conversation he informed her that he believed that she was to blame for the lock of stock at the Bar; he also informed her that the Bar was in financial difficulties and that they could not afford to pay her any more.

On 10 July 2017 Mr Douglas sent Ms Barnes a letter confirming that she was being dismissed for various reasons, including that the business was in financial difficulties and that he felt that she was responsible for the lack of stock.

On 26 October 2017 the Bar went into creditors’ voluntary liquidation.

Ms Barnes subsequently made claims in the Employment Tribunal, alleging:

  • That Mr Clayton’s texts on 20 June 2017 constituted unfavourable treatment because she was pregnant;
  • That Mr Douglas’ conduct on 6 July 2017 constituted unfavourable treatment because she was pregnant; and
  • That she had been dismissed because she was pregnant

The decision of the Employment Tribunal (ET)

The Employment Tribunal held that the conduct of Mr Clayton and Mr Douglas on, respectively, 20 June 2017 and 6 July 2017 did not constitute pregnancy discrimination – Mr Clayton’s conduct on 20 June 2017 was, the Tribunal found, part of a joke with Ms Barnes and was not serious, and it found that Mr Douglas’ conduct on 6 July 2017 constituted part of his act to dismiss her and therefore not a separate act to that of the dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal did find, however, that the reason for Ms Barnes’ dismissal was because of her pregnancy, and therefore found her dismissal to be an act of discrimination and automatically unfair. The Tribunal found that Ms Barnes would not have been dismissed at the beginning of July 2017 and that there was a significant causal connection between the timing of her announcement of her pregnancy and her dismissal; there was not a redundancy situation that existed at any time and Mr Douglas also, the Tribunal found, acted ‘in haste’ once he was told that Ms Barnes was pregnant.

The Employment Tribunal ordered a remedy hearing be held on a separate date.

Our solicitors’ views on the case of Ms K Barnes v Douglas Leisure (North West) Ltd T/a The Wiend Bar (in Liquidation) and others

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment department at Redmans, made the following comment on the case: “Once employers are aware that an employee is pregnant they should take great care to ensure that any action taken against the pregnant employee is reasoned, justified, and fair, otherwise they may face a claim of pregnancy discrimination as in this case – act in haste, repent at leisure.”

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Ms K Barnes v Douglas Leisure (North West) Ltd T/a The Wiend Bar (in Liquidation) and others: 2423941/2017 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 first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Testimonials

    4.81 Average

    324 Reviews

    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Ade A

    I was surprisingly impressed by how Redmans Solicitors handle my case. From the moment I call them to the absolute end of my case, they always look after my best interest.

    Posted 3 days ago

    Malcolm P

    they were there when others were not

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service all the way through from start to finish. Really great support and guidance from the team, they secured the offer that I wanted. I can't recommend Redmans highly enough and will be sure to use their services again should the need arise.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Carmen T

    Redmans give Great service and advice on reading contracts. They can explain all the solicitors jargon into words that you can understand. I received excellent service an I will use them again and again.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Very grateful for Mel’s efforts in handling my case from start to finish which I would have found very stressful without it. She was very professional, friendly and we had a positive outcome. Highly recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Nalin W

    Mel Chin was my Legal Executive when I engaged the services of Redmans Solicitors to help with a redundancy matter. She was incredibly approachable and professional from start to finish. Specially I have to mention regarding prompt reply to all my email queries, It was super quick. I would thoroughly recommend Mel Chin. Many Thanks

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I'd highly recommend Redmans Solicitors. Mel was very helpful and assisted me throughout my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 2 months ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 3 months ago

    ""

    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 months ago