Female shift worker is discriminated when employer stops offering shifts as a result of her pregnancy
The claimant was a student working at a pub part-time, on casual varied hours through the week. During her employment during a period of sickness the claimant discovered she was pregnant and advised the person in charge of doing the rotas and her employer of that fact by way of a text.
Subsequent to advising her employer of her pregnancy, the pub stopped offering the Claimant shifts and also failed to respond to her text asking for shifts once she felt better. Only after the Claimant raised a grievance did the employer offer her work again. The employer did respond to the Claimant’s grievance in writing but did not offer her a meeting.
Following these events, the Claimant rang HMRC and was advised by them that the Respondent had notified them that the Claimant had left employment with them. This prompted the Claimant to resign. The Claimant made claims in the Employment tribunal for; Direct discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, victimisation, failure to provide written particulars and failure to comply with the ACAS code of practice on grievances.
At tribunal it was held that the respondent had withheld work from the Claimant because she was pregnant and suffering from a pregnancy related illness. They therefore upheld the Claimant’s claim for direct discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy. They did not find evidence that the employer had been in contact with HMRC and therefore claimant’s claim of victimisation failed.
They did, however, find that the mutuality of obligation between the parties was just adequate to find an overarching contract of employment. As a result, they upheld the Claimant’s claim in respect of a written statement of particulars. On the final claim it was found that even though they had not held a grievance meeting, the respondent had been willing to meet with the Claimant and therefore it was founded that its conduct was not unreasonable – as a result this also failed.
This case highlights the importance of businesses understanding what the legal status of those they offer work to and the legal rights that accompany that.
Full judgement available here