Pregnant Employee wins £7,500 in Compensation After Being Sacked by Employer

In the case of Miss S Black v Ms E Drain t/a Pat Drain Barbers, an employee was successful in arguing that she had faced pregnancy discrimination. The ET sided with the Claimant as her claim was well-found leading her to win £7,500 for injury to feelings.

The Facts in Miss S Black v Ms E Drain T/A Pat Drain Barbers

Miss Siobhan Black (the “Claimant”) commenced employment with Ms Evelyn Drain t/a Pat Drain Barbers (the “Respondent”) on 23rd October 2019. She was a hairdresser and barber. However, the business was not very profitable.

The Claimant argued that during her employment she was discriminated against on the grounds of her pregnancy, as per section 18 of the Equality Act 2010

The Claimant became pregnant with her first child in 2020. Knowing this, the Respondent attempted to terminate her employment. However, after taking advice from her husband, the Claimant reminded the Respondent of her employment protections. This resulted in her backing away from this decision. On 12th July 2020, the Claimant gave birth to a boy. After this, she planned to return to work at the beginning of April 2021.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, business deteriorated resulting in severe loss of profits in the business. Staff agreed to a reduction in their hours to keep their jobs around February or March 2020.  The Claimant also agreed to a reduction in her hours to help safeguard jobs in the company. She was on furlough from 23 March 2020 until 11th July 2022.

On 27th March 2021, the Claimant met with the Respondent to discuss her return from maternity leave. It was agreed that she would return on 12th April 2021 for 16 hours a week. However, on 7th April 2021, the Claimant found she was once again pregnant and informed the Respondent of it. She further clarified that she planned to return on 11th April as decided.

The Respondent met with the Claimant, on 11th April 2021, and told her that her employment was being terminated.  The Claimant was very distressed because of her employment termination, particularly as she had separated from her partner. She was now a single mother and anxious about supporting her family. This led to an epileptic fit which she believed was due to the stress of being made redundant and having been unable to work since. Shortly after this, the Claimant commenced a claim in the employment tribunal, arguing she had been discriminated against because of her pregnancy.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal

The tribunal held that the claim was well founded and that the Respondent should pay the Claimant £7,500 for injury to her feelings.

In finding in favour of the Claimant, the tribunal was able to draw inferences from the behaviour of the Respondent towards the Claimant which could amount to discrimination.  For instance, the timing of the redundancy decision, which was as soon as the Claimant returned to work after notifying the Respondent of her second pregnancy.  Plus, the Respondent’s previous actions in attempting to persuade the Claimant to leave after her first pregnancy. This showed the protected characteristic of pregnancy appeared to be a key factor in the Respondent’s decision-making process. 

Our Lawyers Comment on This Case

Steve Norton, a lawyer at Redmans, comments that – In this case, the employer failed to persuade a pregnant employee to leave following her first pregnancy when luckily the employee had the benefit of expert advice, then attempted to dismiss her again after her second pregnancy.  The tribunal saw these actions as being clearly linked to pregnancy and maternity.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal can be found here