A pregnant employee who worked for her employer for only a week has won her automatic unfair dismissal and pregnancy and maternity discrimination claims.
The employee had been dismissed for taking two days off sick for a reason connected to her pregnancy.
The employer was ordered to pay the employee just over £23,000 for the automatic unfair dismissal and discrimination.
This case highlights some of the protections pregnant employees have and is a reminder that it is important to ensure that the dismissal of any employee is lawful – even if they have only been employed for a short time.
Facts of the Case
In Wright v Coupland Cavendish t/a Gowing Law Solicitors the employee was employed as an administrator and started work on 18th March 2019.
The employee was pregnant at the time her employment started and was suffering from pregnancy-related hyperemesis which caused nausea and vomiting.
She was absent from work due to this on the 21st and 25th of March 2019. On the afternoon of 25th March, the employer dismissed the employee by email.
The employee complained to the employment tribunal that she had been automatically unfairly dismissed for a reason related to her pregnancy, that she had been subjected to direct pregnancy/maternity discrimination, and that the particulars of the reasons given for her dismissal were inadequate or untrue which was in breach of the Employment Rights Act.
Shortly before the day of the employment tribunal hearing the employer’s solicitors contacted the employment tribunal and admitted that the principal reason for the employee’s dismissal was a reason connected with her pregnancy.
They agreed that the reason for the employee’s dismissal was the fact that she had been ill, which was the result of her pregnancy. The employer accepted that the employee had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against.
That left only one claim to be decided at the hearing. In the bundle of documents, the Tribunal was provided with the email of 25th March 2019 which was the email that dismissed the employee.
The conclusion of the email said that the reason for dismissal was that the employer was unable to rely on the employee. The Tribunal found that the reason given was the true reason for dismissal, albeit as accepted by the employer, that it was an unfair and discriminatory reason.
The claim for giving inadequate or untrue reasons for dismissal therefore failed.