The dismissal of an employee is automatically unfair if the reason for it is that she is pregnant.
The Employment Tribunal (ET) has ruled that a woman who was employed as a press officer at a Northamptonshire hotel was not unfairly dismissed because the decision to outsource her job had been taken before her employer was made aware of her pregnancy.
Samantha Remedios claimed that she had been sacked by Macepark (Whittlebury) Limited, which owned the hotel, after the company found out that she was expecting a baby. She had worked at the hotel for 11 months before being dismissed and her work had been praised by her manager.
In Mrs Remedios’s opinion, she was sacked because she was honest about her pregnancy during a routine appraisal interview, but the ET found that the reason for her dismissal was that her services were no longer needed. However, the ET did criticise the terminology used in a letter sent to Mrs Remedios by the company’s Human Resources manager, calling it ‘nothing short of shambolic’, and made it clear that had Mrs Remedios acquired the employment rights that are gained after being in continuous employment with an employer for one year, the company would have been forced to pay her compensation.
The ET also criticised the company’s decision to let the hotel manager conduct Mrs Remedios’s appeal against the general manager’s decision to sack her, on the ground that a subordinate is unlikely to overturn the decision of a senior manager. It is unlawful to dismiss or demote an employee or to refuse her vocational training because she is pregnant or on maternity leave.
Treating a woman less favourably because of pregnancy or maternity leave is unlawful sex discrimination. It is also unlawful sex discrimination for an employer to turn down a job applicant because she is pregnant.
Pinder Reaux & Associates