LayerSlider – Conveyancing 26Jan18 – Base

Successful Employment Sex Discrimination Case for MKB Law Client

Published 1 April 2019. By Suzanne Keenan

Suzanne Keenan, Associate Director and Head of Employment, was delighted to have acted for client Winnie Van Der Merwe in a recent claim against her employer UHY Hacker Young Fitch Ltd at an Industrial Tribunal hearing.

The Tribunal unanimously found that her employer had unfairly dismissed her and discriminated against her on the grounds of her sex.

Case Background

The Claimant was employed as an Accounts Assistant. Shortly after becoming pregnant, she was summoned to a disciplinary meeting around various allegations including timekeeping, and issued a warning. The Claimant felt these disciplinary issues were taken against her because of her pregnancy.

Subsequently her employer issued a memo informing staff that breaks for lunch, toilet or personal calls that exceeded their daily 30 minute break, were to be made up outside of working hours. This caused the Claimant to worry that she would be disciplined for taking extra toilet breaks due to her pregnancy.

Some months later whilst the Claimant was on sick leave, her employer claimed to have investigated aspects of the Claimant’s work and made various further allegations. When the Claimant returned to work, she was refused admission to the office and advised that she had been suspended without explanation. A disciplinary hearing then took place in which the Claimant was dismissed from the company for alleged gross misconduct.

Conclusions and Judgement

It was revealed that her employer had sought advice on how to end the Claimant’s employment prior to her disciplinary hearing. The Tribunal concluded that her employer had intended to dismiss her from the outset and that “so-called investigations and meetings were sham.”

The Tribunal concluded that the only reason for the dismissal was the Claimant’s pregnancy, and that her employer had discriminated against her on the grounds of her sex. Whilst the Tribunal had set up a separate hearing to address remedy for the Claimant, the proceedings were subsequently settled for an undisclosed sum.

If you wish to read the full Judgement on liability you can download it here.

What our Client said

Winnie commented on the outcome: “I was five months pregnant when I found myself fired for unfounded gross misconduct. I knew from the beginning that this wasn’t right and needed the best people in my corner to fight this injustice with me, so I chose MKB Law for my representation.

Throughout the case, Suzanne Keenan was my guiding light, my shoulder to cry on and my biggest soldier. I cannot thank her and the team enough for not only fighting my case, but also winning it. The way she believed in this case and the professional manner in which she handled the Tribunal Hearing is the reason why we got what we received and what we deserved.

This whole process was about justice for me, justice for my baby, and justice for women who are discriminated against in the workplace. I will for the rest of my life remember this experience, and I will forever wear the emotional scars that came with it but now I have a great and fair ending to a very dark time in my life, all thanks to Suzanne and MKB Law.”

Suzanne Keenan further commented: “I was extremely proud to have represented Winnie in this recent pregnancy discrimination case. It is a case that I was very passionate about from the start and I am absolutely delighted with the outcome for Winnie. This case will resonate with a lot of women who have suffered from any form of discrimination as a result of pregnancy in the workplace.”

If you are in a similar situation and wish to discuss this matter further, please get in touch with our Employment team today.

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