Discriminate against pregnant employees at your peril
A former Academic Lead at the University of Cumbria has been awarded over £120,000 in compensation after an Employment Tribunal found that she had been discriminated against by reason of her pregnancy.
Caroline Law’s role was made redundant in July 2020, some two months before she was due to commence maternity leave. During the redundancy process comments described by the Tribunal as “inappropriate” were made, which lead Mrs Law to suspect that her pregnancy had been a factor in selecting her role for redundancy. The Tribunal agreed, and also found that her appeal against redundancy had been dealt with as a “tick box” exercise and not taken seriously. As a result, there was a lack of meaningful consultation which rendered the dismissal procedurally unfair. The Tribunal also found that Mrs Law had been subject to a detriment by reason of her pregnancy.
At a Remedy hearing which took place in September 2022, Mrs Law was awarded £129,133.39 in compensation for her financial losses. These included loss of salary, and pension loss. The decision as to the appropriate compensation for her non-financial losses (injury to feelings) was reserved and will be decided at a later date.
Esther Marshall, Member and Solicitor in Employment Law, said:
“The substantial compensation awarded in this case should serve as a warning to employers that they discriminate against pregnant employees at their peril. This case also highlights the importance of proper consultation in a redundancy situation, as well as making sure that a fair procedure is followed.
“Our employment law experts can guide employers through the process, ensuring that any decisions are procedurally fair and less vulnerable to challenge.”