I represented a female solicitor and thought I would share her story. She informed her employer of her pregnancy at 13 weeks after a scan. Her excitement about her first pregnancy soon evaporated when she found that she became the victim of a subtle but very deliberate campaign to manoeuvre her out of the business. The attitude of her manager changed completely. She found that the most lucrative work was diverted to a colleague in the same department and she was told on a few occasions that in order to ensure continuity it would be better to pass on her contacts to colleagues at an early stage. She took maternity leave and unsurprisingly, before her return to work, she was informed that her role was to become redundant.
Redundancy selection pool and criteria, pregnancy related dismissal, sex discrimination, and preferential treatment of woman in redundancy situation.
In a survey conducted by Slater & Gordon, a third of mothers said that they found it “impossible” to advance in their career and climb the ranks after returning back to work from maternity leave. Over a third also said that they thought their employer had not been supportive of them while they were pregnant, and three in ten thought they had not been treated well during maternity leave. Employment Tribunal Statistics for 2013-2014 also indicate that claims for sex discrimination increased and included some of the highest awards of compensation.
It is so disappointing to see this sort of discrimination still prevailing. With more women achieving senior positions and with technology allowing much more creative and flexible ways of working it is inexcusable, particularly for a large employer. My client appealed the redundancy decision. She had not been placed in any pool for selection despite her transferable skills, the actions leading up to the redundancy all pointed to an inference that the redundancy was manipulated. What ended up costing the firm a large settlement pay out in this case was the added failure to understand that the law allows a woman on maternity leave to be offered suitable alternative employment in preference to other employees.
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