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A working mother whose employer tried to move her onto frequently changing shift patterns has won her case for unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination at the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
The outcome of the case is important because it means that future tribunals will need to take the disparity in childcare loads between men and women into account.
The original tribunal case was brought by Mrs Dobson, who was employed as a community nurse by North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. She has three children, two of whom are disabled.
For years she had worked set days to accommodate her caring needs. Her employer sought to impose a change in her contracted hours requiring her to work on a flexible schedule, which meant changing her normal work pattern and including weekend working if her employer needed it.
Because of her caring responsibilities, she could not accommodate the changing hours and was dismissed.
Upon appeal, however, the court revisited the “provision, criterion or practice” in the original tribunal, which dismissed Dobson’s claim for indirect discrimination due to lack of direct evidence of group disadvantage.
The judge said that the tribunal “had erred in limiting the pool for comparison to the team in which the claimant worked”, rather than taking into account that women are statistically less likely to accommodate changing shift patterns due to childcare caring responsibilities.
The judgment added: “The tribunal erred in not taking judicial notice of the fact that women, because of their childcare res