A female officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF) has been awarded more than £16,000 after she was removed from her post because she was pregnant.
An employment tribunal found the officer – who chose not to be named because she still serves in the RAF – suffered discrimination, and the force had unintentionally created “an intimidating, degrading, hostile or offensive environment for her”.
When the officer revealed to her superiors that she was 12 weeks pregnant, her request to stay in her desk-based job in the Falkland Islands was rejected, despite her RAF officer husband being based on the same island.
She was ordered to return to the UK immediately, and forced to take leave to return to the Falkland Islands to visit her husband. Her leave meant she missed out on a performance review which then delayed her promotion prospects.
In light of the case the employment tribunal recommended the Ministry of Defence (MoD) should carry out individual risk assessments for pregnant women and consider adjusting their roles to enable them to remain in their posts, and should establish a monitoring process in respect of any removal of a pregnant woman from her post. A performance appraisal for each pregnant woman commencing maternity leave should also be undertaken, it advised.
Model risk assessment form for new and expectant mothers
John Wadham, group director of the legal department of the Equality and Rights Commission, which funded the case, said: “The commission’s research has shown that pregnant women are the most discriminated group of people in the workforce, with 30,000 losing their jobs each year as a result of their pregnancy.
“Larger employers such as the MoD should be leading the way in showing other organisations how to treat their pregnant workers. This judgment should serve as a reminder of what is expected of employers in these situations.”