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Compensation for second pregnancy sacking

BY Daniel Gorry
Employment law
BG Purple

An employment tribunal has awarded compensation to a woman who was dismissed after telling her employer she was pregnant for a second time while still on maternity leave.

The tribunal ruled that office manager Jacky Scott had been the victim of sex HR.

Scott was already on a year’s maternity leave after giving birth when she discovered she was pregnant again. The tribunal heard evidence that one of her employer’s line managers told another member of staff that he would rather make an employee redundant than give her maternity leave.

Scott wrote to her employers, timber merchants Cox Long Ltd, in September 2009 advising them she was pregnant again. She said she planned to return from her first maternity leave in November that year and intended to take a further year’s maternity leave starting in March 2010.

But around two weeks later her employer advised her that her job was a risk of redundancy and she was subsequently sacked at the start of November. Her appeal against her sacking was turned down.

The tribunal also ruled that the company had failed to pay her an annual bonus during her maternity leave. The tribunal heard that only one other employee was made redundant in 2009 and Scott’s redundancy was not implemented until after she had told the firm of her second pregnancy.

Scott has been employed as a cashier since her dismissal. In its judgment the tribunal said that it had concluded “ ….that Mrs Scott’s dismissal for redundancy was prompted by her notification in late September 2009 that she was pregnant and would be taking a further year’s maternity leave”.

The tribunal held that the company had unlawfully discriminated against Scott on the basis of her sex, and is understood to have awarded her a five figure sum in compensation for injury to feelings and her losses.

The judgment is a salutary warning to employers that the tribunals will crack down on employers who attempt to get round HR law.

Since maternity leave was extended to 52 weeks it has been theoretically possible for women to move from one period of leave to another without ever returning to work.

Law At Work recently dealt with a case in which  a woman was dismissed when she told her bosses she was pregnant, was inadvertently re-employed by the same company, and then dismissed again when the company realised who she was. Needless to say, these dismissals were not implemented on LAW’s advice.

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