Pregnant Employee Wins Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Claim (Ms H Moxon v London Borough of Islington and Mr Y Zavery)

In the case of Ms H Moxon v London Borough of Islington and Mr Y Zavery, Ms Moxon who worked for the London Borough of Islington won her case of discrimination by her employer because of unfavourable treatment. This rose from the employer raising questions to HR about her entitlement to maternity leave and copying Ms Moxon into the same email.

The Facts in Ms H Moxon v London Borough of Islington and Mr Y Zavery

Ms Moxon (the “Claimant”) started work as a mental health social worker with the London Borough of Islington (“First Respondent”). Her line manager was Mr Zavery (“Second Respondent”).  She has a disabled daughter that the First and Second Respondents were aware of.

The Claimant argued that during the course of her employment she:

  • was discriminated against and treated less favourably because of her pregnancy and maternity;
  • was subjected to direct sex discrimination;
  • was discriminated against because of associate discrimination;
  • was subject to victimisation due to making a protected act.

On 3 July 2020, whilst on sick leave, the Claimant found that she was 12 weeks pregnant.  She informed the Second Respondent of this who in turn completed the necessary form. However, the Second Respondent wrote to the HR department to clarify the Claimant’s entitlement to maternity leave. It was suspected she got pregnant while on previous maternity leave.

The Claimant then wrote to the Second Respondent, on 15 July 2020, raising concerns about the email regarding her maternity leave entitlement with HR. She said copying her in it was causing her stress and worry.

On 21 December 2020, the Claimant raised a grievance concerning allegations of pregnancy and maternity discrimination. These included other allegations of health and safety breaches, failure to follow maternity procedures and bullying and harassment.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal  

The Employment Tribunal found that the Claimant had been treated unfairly when questions about her maternity leave entitlement were raised. Although the claim was out of time, the Tribunal ruled that it was ‘just and equitable’ to hear the claim.

None of the other complaints was upheld by the tribunal.  The Claimant’s allegation of associate discrimination (relating to her disabled daughter) was rejected as it was not held to have influenced the Second Respondent’s approach to her request for home working on return from maternity leave. Her claim for victimisation due to raising a grievance was not upheld, as it was not seen as having been influenced by any decision regarding access to information on jobs whilst on maternity leave.

Our Lawyers View

Steve Norton, a lawyer at Redmans, believes this is “A lesson for employers to be careful who they copy into certain types of emails especially when it is the employee concerned”.

The full decision of the Employment Tribunal can be found here