Pregnant employee awarded almost £20,000 after being dismissed from her job (Swierczynska v Kaprys Polish Delicatessen Ltd & ors)

In the case of Swierczynska v Kaprys Polish Delicatessen Ltd & ors 3400199/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that a pregnant shop employee had been subjected to a discriminatory dismissal and awarded her compensation of almost £20,000.

The facts in Swierczynska v Kaprys Polish Delicatessen Ltd & ors

Ms Swierczynska started working for Kaprys Polish Delicatessen Ltd (“the Shop”) in November 2015; the Shop was a Polish delicatessen based in Stevenage.

On 23 November 2016 Ms Swierczynska sent an email to the Shop to inform the company that she was pregnant. No risk assessment was carried out.

In December 2016 the entire share capital of the Shop was transferred to a new owner, Mr Hatami. From that date Mr Hatami was the sole director of the Shop. After  the share transfer the two previous directors of the company sent an email on 14 December to all four employees of the Shop to inform them they were being dismissed; however, the employees did not treat the email seriously, On 12 December 2016 a letter was sent to Ms Swierczynska by Mr Hatami confirming that she was being dismissed; she did not, however, receive this letter until 21 December 2016. After receiving the email on 14 December 2016 Ms Swierczynska made enquiries as to what was going on and was told that she should carry on working.

On 19 December 2016 a call was made to the Shop, with this call being answered by Ms Kosarczuk. As a result of this call Ms Kosarczuk informed Ms Swierczynska that she had been dismissed. Ms Swierczynska took her personal belongings and left the shop. She appealed her dismissal (by way of a letter dated 20 December 2016) but there was no response to this save being told “not to bother the new owner”.

Ms Malik subsequently made claims for pregnancy and maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal, among others.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal held that Ms Swierczynska had been unfairly dismissed and that she had, as a result of her dismissal, been discriminated against because of her pregnancy – no explanation of the dismissal was given and at the time that Ms Swierczynska was dismissed Mr Hatami knew that she was pregnant.

The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Swierczynska the following sums in compensation:

  • Compensation for unfair dismissal: £4,032.50
  • Compensation for injury to feelings (including interest): £15,215

Our solicitors’ view on Swierczynska v Kaprys Polish Delicatessen Ltd & ors

Caroline Lewis, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must ensure that decisions made to dismiss employees, particularly employees with protected status, must be fair and, equally, clearly communicated – a failure to make a fair decision to dismiss and/or to clearly communicate such can potentially lead to a discriminatory dismissal being effected.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal in Swierczynska v Kaprys Polish Delicatessen Ltd & ors can be found here.