A former part-time employee at Morrisons has been awarded £60,000 by an employment tribunal after the supermarket asked her to fulfil the responsibilities of a full-time worker when she returned from maternity leave.
Donna Patterson, a buyer within the supermarket’s online buisness, claimed she was asked to take on a full-time role when she returned to work after having her second child, despite having only a part-time contract.
When she raised concerns about being able to fulfil her new responsibilities in her contracted hours, she was reportedly told to “prioritise things a bit better and get your head in the right place and get your mindset right”.
After concerns were raised about work not being completed on time, Patterson filed a grievance. She told the BBC’s Woman’s Hour that the process “totally failed [her]”.
Patterson also claimed that a new role that was offered to her suddenly “disappeared” when she announced her pregnancy, and that managers were reluctant to let her work from home or have half days to pick up her children.
She was signed off with work-related stress in December 2021. She claimed that during her sick leave her manager called with a work-related query.
She later handed in her notice in March 2022. After leaving she submitted a data subject access request and came across a letter that showed there were plans to demote her while she was pregnant.
Patterson took the company to an employment tribunal. She represented herself, with the help of campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed.
Earlier this month, the employment tribunal ruled that Patterson had been “unfavourably treated” and that Morrisons had subjected her to a “detriment of indirect sex discrimination after her maternity leave”. It ordered the supermarket to pay her £60,442.25 in compensation.
“I just sat there and tears streamed down my face. Just from the sheer relief that it was worth it – worth all of the stress, all of the effort and worth everybody saying ‘why not just walk away and move on’,” Patterson said following the ruling.
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “The happiness and wellbeing of our colleagues is a fundamental part of our culture and welcoming mothers back from maternity leave in a thoughtful, consensual and decent way is incredibly important to us. However, we don’t accept that we acted in an unfair way in this case and believe a number of the facts have been misrepresented and we are considering an appeal.”