Pregnant Co-worker Who Was Told to Get Used to Pregnancy Discomfort Wins Pregnancy Discrimination Claim
In the case of Ms A Banks v Lloyds Bank plc, an employment tribunal held that claims for pregnancy discrimination and constructive dismissal succeeded. As a result, a remedy hearing will take place to determine Ms Bank’s compensation.
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The Facts in Ms A Banks v Lloyds Bank plc
Background – Lloyds Becomes Aware of Ms Banks’ Pregnancy
Ms Banks (“The Claimant”) began working for Lloyds Bank (“The Respondent”) on 9 September 2019. She was a customer service advisor, reporting to her line managers, Ms Joanne King and Mr Amar Chudasama. Mr Fatheur Raham oversaw the claimant’s line managers.
The claimant discovered she was pregnant in April 2020 and informed the respondent in May 2020. On 13 May 2020, Ms Banks experienced bleeding at work, making her distressed and worried. Ms King seemed supportive and arranged for her to be taken to the hospital.
After receiving medical attention on 14 May 2020, Ms Banks’ doctor informed her not to return to work until the following week. Despite approving this, Ms King conveyed annoyance when Ms Banks told her, upsetting the claimant.
Mr Rahman’s Meeting With the Claimant
In the week commencing 18 May 2020, Ms Banks met with Mr Rahman to address work issues concerning her pregnancy. Subsequently, it was agreed the claimant could split her lunch over two shorter periods and have more frequent toilet breaks. However, the employment tribunal heard that Mr Rahman failed to ensure a pregnancy risk assessment had been completed.
Ms Banks’ Second Period of Pregnancy-Related Leave
From 30 June 2020 until 17 July 2020, Ms Banks was on leave after developing a urine infection requiring hospital treatment. On 13 July 2020, the claimant attended work to hand in an absence note. Whilst there, she met with her managers to discuss further required measures, including frequent toilet breaks, reduced working at the till and a more supportive chair.
However, the respondent dismissed these measures. Mr Chudasama told Ms Banks, “You are not the only one with problems” when discussing toilet breaks. He later told her she could use the bathroom when required, provided two other colleagues were on the till.
Ms Banks felt her pregnancy-related concerns weren’t being taken seriously due to the respondent’s dismissive nature. Furthermore, the pregnant employee felt singled out by the toilet break comments as no other colleagues had to take these steps.
Ms Banks Required A Third Period of Pregnancy-Related Leave
On 7 September 2020, Ms Banks took two days off work following contraction-like pains. She reported this to Ms King, who said, “What exactly seems to be wrong?”. Ms King’s tone made Ms Banks feel guilty, meaning she returned to work on 9 September 2020 despite still feeling the pain.
That same day, Ms Banks was referred to the hospital by her midwife because of the pain. The following day, she phoned Mr Chudasama to explain her absence, and he said, “If it’s not an infection and there is nothing wrong with your baby, you should be at work”.
Then, on 11 September 2020, Ms King called the claimant, asking, “What actually is wrong with you?”. The claimant explained how each of her line managers’ calls upset her, prompting her to request a well-being meeting.
However, Ms Banks’ request was ignored, making her feel unsupported. Due to the lack of response from the respondent, the claimant cancelled the well-being meeting on 18 September 2020. This was because she thought it wouldn’t be beneficial since her employer wasn’t considering her well-being.
A Grievance was Raised
On 25 September 2020, the claimant sent a grievance letter to Mr Rahman to get her pregnancy-related concerns taken seriously. She outlined that she believed she’d experienced pregnancy discrimination from her line managers and could no longer work with them due to their conduct. She ended the letter requesting a meeting with Mr Rahman, accompanied by a trade union representative.
Mr Rahman tried to resolve the matter informally without a representative being present. However, on 8 October 2020, Ms Banks met with Mr Rahman, accompanied by her representative. This wasn’t a formal grievance meeting but one of mediation. Although the claimant felt the issues with Ms King had been somewhat resolved, the rest seemed to be dismissed.
A Letter From the Midwife
Following the build-up of events, Ms Banks visited her doctor, who signed her off from work for two weeks until 27 October 2020. The claimant remained on leave for pregnancy-related reasons before going on maternity leave on 23 November 2020.
During Ms Banks’ leave, her midwife wrote a letter for her employer on 23 October 2023. It raised concerns over how the claimant was treated and stressed that a pregnant worker requires a stress-free environment. This is to prevent serious health problems for the mother and child. Again, the tribunal learned this letter was ignored, highlighting the respondent’s casual attitude to pregnancy-related well-being issues.
Return to Work
Ms Banks gave birth on 25 December 2020 and was expected to return to work on 20 September 2021. After further failed attempts at resolving her grievance, she realised her issues would never be resolved.
Due to suffering from post-natal depression, on 4 August 2020, the claimant requested to extend her maternity leave to a full year. Then, on 16 September 2021, Ms Banks resigned from her role, explaining she felt she’d been discriminated against and not had her concerns taken seriously.
Subsequently, Ms Banks brought her claims against Lloyds Bank in September 2021 concerning pregnancy discrimination and constructive dismissal.
The Decision of the Employment Tribunal
The tribunal ruled that Ms Banks had reason to believe her pregnancy-related concerns weren’t being taken seriously. Furthermore, they found that the respondent hadn’t trained managers on how to treat a pregnant worker properly, leading to their casual approach.
They said the incidents the claimant experienced amounted to more than unfavourable treatment and were a direct result of her pregnancy. Also, they explained the claimant’s pregnancy issues were an essential part of her contract. Since the respondent’s conduct breached Ms Banks’ pregnancy rights, she was entitled to treat herself as discharged from performance and terminate the contract because of their conduct. Effectively, constructively dismissing her.
Therefore, following their findings, the tribunal held that Ms Banks’ claims of pregnancy discrimination and constructive dismissal succeeded.
Contact us today if you want to make similar pregnancy discrimination claims. We can discuss the facts of your case, assess your eligibility and advise you on how you could proceed.