Woman dismissed after taking period of time off work for IVF treatment awarded over £21,000 by Employment Tribunal (Karavadra v BJ Cheese Packaging Limited – ET/1305782/2018)

In the case of Karavadra v BJ Cheese Packaging Limited ET/1305782/2018 an Employment Tribunal awarded the Claimant over £21,000 in compensation after finding that she was dismissed because she was pregnant.

The facts in Karavadra v BJ Cheese Packaging Limited

Mrs Karavadra (“the Claimant”) commenced a trial period with BJ Cheese Packaging Limited (“BJ”) on 8 January 2018 after interviewing for an administrative position with the directors of BJ (Mr Jhinjer and his father, Bob Jhinjer) in early January 2018.

The Claimant successfully completed her 3-week trial period and commenced full employment on 29 January 2018. On 5 February 2018 she suffered a miscarriage and took a day’s unpaid leave before returning to work on 7 February 2018. She informed Mr Jhinjer about her miscarriage and that she hoped to start a period of IVF treatment shortly.

The Claimant commenced IVF treatment on 25 May 2018 and, prior to her IVF treatment starting, she agreed with Mr Jhinjer that she would take one month of annual leave at the appropriate time in order to rest, so that she could avoid a further miscarriage.

In the period 25 May 2018 to 26 June 2018 the Claimant attended a number of IVF-related appointments, and on 24 June 2018 she booked annual leave to run from 27 June 2018 to 27 July 2018. On 13 July 2018 the Claimant discovered that she was pregnant and on 24 July 2018 she texted Mr Jhinjer to ask whether she could have two more weeks off work on annual leave. Mr Jhinjer replied ‘ok, no problem’.

On 8 August 2018 the Claimant sent a text message to Mr Jhinjer confirming that she would return to work on 13 August 2018. She received no response to this message. On 10 August 2018 Mr Jhinjer called the Claimant and stated that her long period of annual leave had caused staff shortages, and that as a result of this he had had to cancel his holiday. The Claimant informed Mr Jhinjer that she was pregnant. Mr Jhinjer encouraged her to take a further two to three months off work but the Claimant said that she wanted to return to work. Mr Jhinjer said that he would call the Claimant back but did not do so.

On 22 August 2018 the Claimant attended BJ’s premises and spoke to Bob Jhinjer. He said that he was unaware that his son had agreed for her to take such along holiday and that he would not have approved this. He also said that he was unaware that she had IVF treatment and confirmed that he would not allow the Claimant to return to work.

On 6 September 2018 the Claimant received a P45 showing a termination date of 13 July 2018.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal held that the Caimant had been automatically unfairly dismissed from her employment as she had been dismissed for the sole or principal reason that she was pregnant (section 99 Employment Rights Act 1996).

The Employment Tribunal also held that the Claimant had been treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy (section 18 Equality Act 2010) in being dismissed, not being paid her wages, and not being paid her notice pay.

The Claimant was awarded the sum of £21,081.14 as compensation for her claims, comprised as follows:

  • Basic Award: £290.40
  • Loss of earnings: £1,593
  • Statutory Maternity Pay: £6,474.60
  • Loss of statutory rights: £500
  • Loss of wages: £348.47
  • Notice pay: £265.50
  • Injury to feelings: £10,041.18
  • ACAS uplift: £1,916.46

Our solicitors’ comments on Karavadra v BJ Cheese Packaging Limited

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case emphasizes that employers must take a conscientious, fair and diligent approach towards employees who are absent from work due to a period of IVF treatment, failing which they can potentially face a costly and public Employment Tribunal claim (as in this case).”

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Karavadra v BJ Cheese Packaging Limited ET/1305782/2018 can be found here.