Worker sacked immediately after telling bosses she was pregnant wins compensation

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An administrative worker who was sacked immediately after telling bosses she was pregnant has won nearly £15,000 in compensation. 

Charlotte Leitch was left feeling “degraded and worthless” when she was fired after revealing to her manager – a mother herself – that she was expecting a baby.

The 34-year-old had only been in her new £20,000 a year role at the security system supplier for a few weeks before she was forced to leave.

A judge accused Nicola Calder, the company’s head of compliance, of “taking advantage” of Miss Leitch’s emotional state after the assistant told her about suffering previous miscarriages and her fears over her new pregnancy.

Left “shocked” by the company’s “sexist and belittling” behaviour, Miss Leitch sued her employer – Essex-based CIS Services – for pregnancy discrimination and unfair dismissal.

An employment tribunal has now awarded her £14,885 in compensation after deciding that Miss Leitch had been fired for a reason “connected with her pregnancy”. 

Firm terminated worker’s employment

The east London hearing was told that Miss Leitch joined the company in May 2021 as an administrative assistant but raised concerns about her contract.

As a result, she had not yet signed the document when a little over a month after joining she told Mrs Calder she was pregnant.

The tribunal heard that at the meeting she explained that she was concerned about the wellbeing of her baby as she had suffered traumatic events relating to previous pregnancies, including eight miscarriages.

In response, her boss claimed that she was not entitled to maternity leave as she had not signed her new employee contract.

The hearing was also told Mrs Calder said the company did not need to keep her in the job – telling her: “We have no obligation to keep you on.”

The company then said that it had already decided to terminate Miss Leitch’s employment if she did not sign her contract, as it was concerned about her work performance.

A letter sent to the ex-employee said: “The decision to terminate your employment was made irrespective of you being pregnant and we categorically deny that we have discriminated against you.”

Pregnancy was ‘principal reason for dismissal’

The tribunal rejected this and concluded that both of Miss Leitch’s claims of pregnancy discrimination and unfair dismissal were well-founded.

Employment Judge Carol Porter said: “Words were spoken under emotional stress and Mrs Calder took advantage of the situation and took steps to terminate [Miss Leitch’s] employment, giving [her] options as to the date when she would leave, and seeking, in the first instance, to make out that this was a mutual agreement.

“Having considered all the circumstances, we find that the principal reason for dismissal, the reason uppermost in Mrs Calder’s mind was [Miss Leitch’s] pregnancy and [her] history of pregnancy-related illness.

“[She] was dismissed for a reason connected with her pregnancy.”

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