Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

Pregnancy should not be a setback to any woman’s career. This is reflected in Section 18 of the Equality Act 2010, which specifically relates to discrimination.

A person (A) discriminates against a woman if, in the protected period in relation to a pregnancy of hers, A treats her unfavourably because of the pregnancy.

equality act 2010 – Section 18

In a recent case before the Employment Tribunal in Exeter, Mrs Town, a serving police officer brought a claim against her police force. She was a Response Officer on the front line, in a team she really got on with, and was working the job she had always wanted.

When she became pregnant, she was reallocated from the Response team to the Crime Management Hub. This was a role which involved no front-line work, and the transfer was affected, according to the force, in the interests of Mrs Town, as they said it was safer for a pregnant woman. This transfer was contrary to her own wishes, and also ignored a risk assessment which had been carried out by a sergeant on the force. The claim had two heads: the Section 18 claim against pregnancy discrimination, and also a Section 19 indirect discrimination claim.

The Section 18 claim

The Tribunal found that the unfavourable treatment was removing Mrs Town from a supportive working environment she enjoyed, against a backdrop of risk to her mental health which she had warned against. The force contended that it was not unfavourable, as they were simply removing Mrs Town from risks that a pregnant woman should not be exposed to. However, as I have mentioned, a risk assessment had been carried out which concluded Mrs Town would have been able to remain in the Response team had certain minor adjustments been made. As such, moving her was considered unfavourable treatment, not least because her mental health did end up suffering as a result.

The Section 19 claim

Section 19 states that someone will be discriminated against if a provision, criterion, or practice (PCP) is applied to them which is discriminatory in relation to a protected characteristic.

The PCP in question was a policy of the force which said:

“If someone is on restricted duties beyond two weeks they will be considered for a role in Crime Hub.”

Pregnancy is not a protected characteristic, but the argument of the Claimant was that, as only women can get pregnant, and pregnancy is an automatic trigger for the policy, women are plainly disproportionately liable to be transferred. As such, it was considered by the Tribunal to be indirect discrimination. It was noted that it is not necessary for every member of a group to be at a particular disadvantage for it to be said that the members of the group are at a particular disadvantage if a member of the group is more likely to be disadvantaged than the comparative group.

The appeal

HHJ Shanks dismissed the appeal from the force on both the Section 18 and Section 19 issues, agreeing totally with the judgment of the Tribunal.

Chris Hadrill, partner in the employment team at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must ensure that they treat pregnant women fairly – if they fail to do so, as in this case, then they face potentially lengthy, costly and time-consuming Employment Tribunal litigation as well as a finding that they have discriminated against the person in question.”

Link to judgment: https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2020/0194_19_1009.html

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

    4.80 Average

    330 Reviews

    Arabella B

    I am so grateful to Caroline Lewis at Redmans Solicitor’s for helping me with my Unfair Dismissal Case. I was seriously impressed how easy Redmans made the whole case, and am very happy with my Settlement. I have recommended your firm to at least 5 people in the last 3 months.. Thank you Caroline and everyone at Redmans. You are Brilliant .

    Posted 7 hours ago

    Anonymous

    Highly professional and efficient service.

    Posted 12 hours ago

    Tanya T

    I had the pleasure of Chris and Sacha’s experience with a work matter. They made me feel at ease with the process and explained everything thoroughly. Would happily recommend Redmans especially Chris and use them if needed I’m the future. Thank you!

    Posted 13 hours ago

    Anonymous

    I used the services of Redmans solicitors and was a quick outstanding service I engaged them in a settlement agreement after been made redundant extremely professional at all that was done and would definetly use them again

    Posted 14 hours ago

    Adrian A

    Spot on support, enough to get the matter at hand sorted. No beating around the bush, no nonsense - got the job done and we all moved on.

    Posted 14 hours ago

    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 week 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 1 week ago

    Malcolm P

    they were there when others were not

    Posted 2 weeks 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 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

    Posted 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 months 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 3 months ago