Woman unfairly dismissed due to pregnancy related illness
The Employment Tribunal has ruled that a woman was discriminated against when she was dismissed after missing work with a pregnancy related illness.
The case involved Maya Georgiev, who worked as a debt drafter for Hanover Insolvency for three months between July and October 2018.
On 29 August, Georgiev needed to leave work early as she started feeling unwell. She later discovered that she was pregnant, which had caused her to suffer morning sickness and dizziness at work.
She continued to experience nausea, dizziness and vomiting as the weeks went by and needed to take time off work.
Georgiev told two colleagues of her pregnancy but asked them not to tell anyone else at work.
She took several days off work until she was called into a meeting with managing director Daniel Morris.
Morris called the meeting to dismiss her. She explained to him that she was pregnant and that her absences were due to sickness brought about by her pregnancy.
Morris continued with his decision to dismiss her, despite learning the reason for her absence.
She was later offered the chance to work from home on a self-employed basis rather than as an employee.
Georgiev appealed her dismissal and told Hanover that she was having technical issues that meant she was unable to work remotely.
She received a reply from the HR manager saying she would be “more than welcome to come back and work from the office, on an employed basis”.
The HR manager had failed to understand that Georgiev was appealing her dismissal and no investigation was set.
Georgiev accepted the offer to return to work but requested adjustments such as being placed in a less stressful role, as recommended in a doctor’s note.
Morris phoned Georgiev and told her none of the positions she wanted were available. He recorded the phone conversation, but it provided evidence that he continuously interrupted Georgiev, making it difficult for her to have her say.
Georgiev made a claim for unfair dismissal, discrimination, breach of contract and unlawful deduction from her wages.
The tribunal ruled in Georgiev’s favour in all claims except unlawful deduction of wages.
Judge Hilary Slater said: “We conclude that the reason or principal reason for dismissal was pregnancy-related absence and, therefore, was connected with the claimant’s pregnancy.”
A remedy judgment has been set for September.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.