Law firm employee dismissed because she was pregnant awarded £23k

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A law firm has been ordered to pay more than £23,000 for pregnancy discrimination after it sacked a pregnant employee who had been unwell.

Ms K Wright was employed as an administrator at Coupland Cavendish, which trades as Gowing Law Solicitors, for one week between 18 to 25 March 2019.

She was pregnant and had been suffering with nausea and vomiting, which led her to take a day off sick on 21 March, followed by another day of sickness absence for the same reason on 25 March 2019. She was dismissed by email later that afternoon. The email claimed it had been unable to rely on her.

Wright brought a claim of automatic unfair dismissal and maternity and pregnancy discrimination against the Manchester-based firm. She also claimed the reasons it had had given for her dismissal had been inadequate and untrue.

Shortly before the case was heard by the Manchester employment tribunal in February 2020, the respondent’s solicitors conceded in a letter to the tribunal that the principle reason for Wright’s dismissal had been reasons connected with her pregnancy and accepted that she had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against.

The tribunal found that the reasons given for her dismissal had not been inadequate; the tribunal’s view was that the email providing the reason for dismissal was actually lengthier than seen in many circumstances.

The email said that the reason was that the respondent felt it was unable to rely on the claimant, which the tribunal found to a true reason, “albeit in fact an unfair and discriminatory one”.

Judge Phil Allen ordered the law firm to pay Wright £23,060 in compensation, comprised of awards for loss of earnings, injury to feelings, loss of future earnings and interest.

Wright had also sought aggravated damages based on the delay in the organisation admitting liability, but the tribunal decided it would not make an award for this in this case.

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