Stablehand wins pregnancy discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal after being fired (Parsons v Oswestry Equestrian Centre Limited)

In the case of Miss A Parsons v Oswestry Equestrian Centre Ltd: 1301514/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that the claimant had been subjected to pregnancy discrimination and automatically unfair dismissed when she was dismissed from her job as a stable-hand (because she was pregnant).

The facts in Parsons v Oswestry Equestrian Centre Ltd

Ms Parsons commenced employment with Oswestry Equestrian Centre Ltd (“the Centre”) in February 2016. She worked approximately 16 hours per week for the company as a stable-hand. The joint owners of the company were Mrs Maria Castillo and her husband Mr Richard Connell.

In January 2017 Ms Parsons discovered that she was pregnant, and on 27 January 2017 she informed Mr Connell of this fact during one of her shifts. She informed him that she was expecting to give birth in mid-September and wished to continue working for as long as she safely could.

On 10 February 2017 Mr Connell approached Ms Parsons and told her that her services would no longer be required going forward, as there were insufficient hours for her. He told her that she was dismissed effective immediately. However, one of Ms Parson’s colleagues who had been away from work for a period of time, Ellie Hughes, was asked to come in to work shortly after as the Centre was short-staffed and needed stable-hands.

Ms Parsons subsequently submitted claims to the Employment Tribunal for pregnancy discrimination (section 18 of the Equality Act 2010) and automatic unfair dismissal (section 99 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

Mr Connell argued in the defence to the claim that Ms Parsons had not been dismissed from her employment and that she had chosen to resign; the Tribunal found that there had in fact been a dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal upheld Ms Parson’s claims for pregnancy discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal.

Pregnancy discrimination

The Tribunal accepted Ms Parson’s evidence and held that she was dismissed on 10 February 2017. The Employment Tribunal further held that the reason for Ms Parson’s dismissal was her pregnancy – Mr Connell foresaw that Ms Parsons would be less useful and a potential liability for the Centre because she was pregnant, and chose to dismiss her on this basis.

Automatic unfair dismissal

The Employment Tribunal held that the sole or principal reason for Ms Parson’s dismissal was because she was pregnant, upholding her claim for automatic unfair dismissal.

The Tribunal further held that Ms Parsons had been dismissed without notice when she was entitled to a period of notice. It was therefore held that Ms Parsons had been wrongfully dismissed.

Our solicitors’ view on Parsons v Oswestry Equestrian Centre Ltd

Caroline Lewis, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers should treat pregnant employees fairly and, in particular, should not subject them to detriments because they are pregnant or intend to take a period of maternity leave – dismissing an employee because she is pregnant would not only be an act of pregnancy discrimination but also automatically unfair, and could lead to a substantial award of compensation.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal in Parsons v Oswestry Equestrian Centre Ltd can be found here.