We help a client challenge pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Our Civil Legal Advice Discrimination service deals with clients from across England and Wales who have been treated unfairly in their day to day lives. The team works hard to help clients seek justice for these discriminatory acts. In this case study one of our advisers assists a client to make a success claim for pregnancy discrimination in the employment tribunal and win a substantial compensatory award.

‘She was made to clean the toilets whilst heavily pregnant…’

Sarah was employed as a personal assistant in a health clinic. She was line managed by the company owner and director, who had no immediate superior.

After 12 months in her job Sarah advised her manager that she was expecting a child, after which she started to experience unfavourable treatment. For example:

she received telephone calls outside of office hours berating her for a minor mistake in an email

she heard her manager make derogatory comments about her to patients

she was made to clean the toilets whilst heavily pregnant, which was not one of her normal duties.

This behaviour escalated after Sarah took time off sick due to a pregnancy-related illness. She was threatened with dismissal should she take time off again and was pressured into starting her maternity leave early. She was not paid holiday pay due and had money deducted from her wages for breaks which she was never actually allowed to take.

Sarah did not wish to return.

She raised a grievance which, though acknowledged, was never investigated, or responded to. She contacted ACAS and started early conciliation which her employer refused to co-operate with. She contacted our service for advice on the next steps.

Making a tribunal claim

We provided Sarah with detailed advice about her legal position and options for pursuing the matter. She opted to issue a tribunal claim for discrimination and we assisted with this. We helped her to issue the claim, comply with the tribunal directions and prepare and file documents, including witness statements.

We also acted as a point of contact for the employer as Sarah found contact with them too upsetting.

We provided Sarah with advice and assistance in preparation for the tribunal hearing and helped her to compose and articulate her legal arguments.

The Tribunal found in her favour and she was awarded the full amount she claimed, £19,767.76 which included holiday pay, sick pay and damages for discrimination/injury to feelings plus interest.

The Tribunal also reviewed the working policies and procedures of the employer and advised changes that should be made for other employees, so this outcome should have a broader impact still.

Our impact

We provided Sarah with detailed advice about her rights and options, and assisted her to prepare her case for tribunal. She achieved a significant award at a tribunal hearing and was able to seek closure and to move on with some financial stability at a very distressing time.

Sarah’s feedback

I contacted Citizens Advice Gateshead in order to get assistance with my Maternity Discrimination case with my previous employer and I must say I was absolutely amazed by the amount of support and assistance I received. Once all my evidence was assessed I was given a caseworker who was extremely helpful and knowledgeable about my case this helped because it meant I was able to get useful feedback.

The caseworker provided helped ease my workload in many ways such as being able to negotiate with the other party without me having to physically speak to them as she played the role of the middle man. I was also provided assistance and guidance with any information I did not understand. When I eventually had to go to the tribunal the guidance given as well as the feedback my caseworker provided, allowed me to be well prepared as I was well informed about what to expect.

This led to me winning my case and gaining a substantial amount of money. I am honestly still in shock at how much the support was so useful. if you are in doubt about your legal chances I would strongly advise getting in contact with Citizens Advice Gateshead.

I would like to say a huge thank you to the whole team! 

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