A woman who claimed that she was sacked from her job because she was pregnant has lost her battle for compensation in the Employment Tribunal.
Ms Rachel Whatmore commenced working for Mann Broadbent Limited in 2008 and at the time of her dismissal in 2012 worked as an accounts handler. The firm, which supplies insurance cover, had a large contract with the Football Association to provide package insurance details to football clubs. This contract amounted to 80 percent of its income and it therefore got into financial trouble last year when the Football Association decided to change its insurance provider. The firm therefore decided that it needed to make redundancies unless it could replace the deal with the Football Association with alternative business.
Ms Whatmore, who was on maternity leave at the time that redundancies were first proposed, was made redundant in the round of redundancies that followed. She was unhappy that she had not been told what her redundancy score was by the firm and subsequently issued an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.
The case came before the Birmingham Employment Tribunal earlier this month. The Employment Tribunal heard evidence from both Ms Whatmore (the claimant) and Mann Broadbent Ltd (the respondent). Ms Whatmore gave evidence that she had not been provided with information regarding her exact redundancy score and that a male employee had been kept on at the firm while she had been dismissed. She further stated that she believed that she would not have lost her job if she had been pregnant. However, Mr Duncan Sutcliffe, giving evidence for the respondent, stated that women employees who had been on maternity leave at the firm had always been welcomed back, that Ms Whatmore’s maternity leave had been extended in order to help her and that the other employee who had been made redundant was a woman. Mr Sutcliffe also stated that the male employee had been retained because he had gained more qualifications than Ms Whatmore whilst she had been on redundancy leave.
Employment Judge Saunby, chairing the Employment Tribunal, ruled in Mann Broadbent’s favour in Ms Whatmore’s claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination. He stated that it was clear that the firm needed to make redundancies because of the loss of its deal with the Football Association and that there was a genuine redundancy situation. Although he criticised the firm for failing to provide Ms Whatmore with information relating to her redundancy, he stated that her redundancy had not been unfair.
Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “The claimant in this case needed to prove that she had been made redundant because of her sex and/or the fact that she was on maternity leave. This is a high evidential bar to reach and she failed to do so in this instance. However, employers should be careful to carry out redundancy procedures thoroughly and carefully in order to avoid potential employment tribunal claims.”
Redmans Solicitors are unfair dismissal solicitors offering settlement agreement advice to employees and employers