Ramdoolar v Bycity Limited, EAT, 30 July 2004

Is she or isn’t she? Following her dismissal on the grounds of performance, Mrs Ramdoolar claimed the company’s reasons were in reality connected to her pregnancy and her dismissal was, therefore, automatically unfair. The company denied any knowledge of her pregnancy or that she had informed them she was pregnant, an argument which the tribunal accepted in dismissing her claim.

Mrs Ramdoolar appealed, arguing that the company ought to have realised she was pregnant from the symptoms and behaviour she displayed.

In support of that particular contention she sought to draw a parallel with disability cases, where an employer might reasonably be expected to be aware of an individual’s disability.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) flatly rejected Mrs Ramdoolar’s arguments in dismissing her appeal.

It found there could be no possible parallel with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, not least since pregnancy-related dismissal is governed by an extensive statutory scheme of maternity rights, generally requiring actual knowledge of pregnancy. In any event, if Mrs Ramdoolar’s arguments were correct, employers would have to take steps to find out whether an employee was pregnant, have the ability to identify pregnancy and be able to distinguish between symptoms of pregnancy and those of other illnesses.

All of this may prove very intrusive for the employee, and could constitute a detriment. It would also impose an unrealistic burden on the employer.

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