Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

In the case of Thomas v Whitbread Group plc ET/3202395/13 the Employment Tribunal held that Mrs Thomas had been discriminated against by her employer Costa Coffee (which is owned by Whitbread Group plc) when the company failed to make reasonable adjustments for her post-natal depression.

Factual background of Thomas v Whitbread Group plc

Mrs Thomas worked as a store manager for Costa Coffee, a coffee shop owned by Whitbread Group plc. Mrs Thomas suffered from the disability of post-natal depression, which she had disclosed in her job application when applying for the position of store manager, and an occupational health therapist recommended when started at the company that she maintain regular contact with her supervisor (Ms Hudson) so that her condition could be monitored.

A number of inspections of Ms Thomas’ store were undertaken after she started employment, and the store’s performance was rated as unsatisfactory. Ms Hudson therefore informed Ms Thomas that she would be  subjected to disciplinary action. Ms Thomas subsequently raised a complaint against Ms Hudson, alleging that she had been bullied, harassed, and subjected to disability discrimination. Ms Hudson immediately suspended Mrs Thomas and undertook the disciplinary proceedings, which resulted in a final written warning for Mrs Thomas. Mrs Thomas’ grievance was not upheld.

After the conclusion of the disciplinary and grievance procedures Mrs Thornley took over supervising Mrs Thomas and continued to intensely monitor her, including often calling her on the telephone (which Mrs Thomas found stressful, due to her post-natal depression). Mrs Thomas then requested parental leave for a week from 2 April 2013, which Mrs Thornley rejected on the basis that there was no fully-trained assistance manager who could have run the Costa store in Mrs Thomas’ absence. Mrs Thomas continued to apply for parental leave but her applications were continually turned down; however, Mrs Thornley subsequently informed Mrs Thomas that she could take annual leave for a week from 2 April 2013 as a gesture of “goodwill”.

Mrs Thomas resigned from her employment and claimed constructive dismissal and disability discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Tribunal found that Mrs Thomas had been constructively dismissed because of the unfair decision to suspend her from her employment after she submitted her complaint and, further, because of the refusal to allow her to take parental leave. The Tribunal also found that Costa had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Mrs Thomas’ post-natal depression as there was a failure to regularly monitor her condition and her managers continued to contact her by telephone despite knowing this would cause her additional anxiety.

The Tribunal awarded Mrs Thomas substantial compensation, including £15,000 as compensation for injury to feelings.

Our lawyers’ comment on the case

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “This case shows that employers must be careful when dealing with suspensions, and particularly so if an employee has previously made a complaint of discrimination. Failing to deal with disciplinary action in a fair and impartial way could lead to an Employment Tribunal claim against the business.”

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

    4.79 Average

    339 Reviews

    James B

    Great and prompt service- would recommend and use again!

    Posted 9 hours ago

    Emma L

    Excellent service. From start the team where efficient and helpful, the whole process was made easy on a very stressful and upsetting situation. They worked well to support my situation and negotiate. Would highly recommend. Thank you to Chris, Sacha and the team.

    Posted 10 hours ago

    Brian H

    I must say, not seeing any of you and doing all on-line works very well. Very pleased with the service and would recommend you. Fantastic service. Many thanks Brian Haines

    Posted 11 hours ago

    Sheenu A

    Professionals with excellent quality of work.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Maris T

    I recommend Redman's Solicitors. Chris was very helpful and informative. He provided a speedy and efficient service at a reasonable price.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    quick response, friendly staff, my issue was smoothly done. superb

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Overall I was very satisfied with the service I received. Right from making initial contact to being contacted by Chris Hadrill. He was easy to talk to, friendly and professional and gave sound advice. I would certainly use Redman's again. Thank you for all your help, Chris. I would rate my experience as 5 star.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Jane K

    4 stars for quality of advise. the team are good but it feels rushed sometimes and hard to contact.

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    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 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Highly professional and efficient service.

    Posted 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 month 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 month ago

    Malcolm P

    they were there when others were not

    Posted 1 month 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 month ago

    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

    Posted 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months ago