Estate Agent Wins £180,000 Sex Discrimination Case

Alice Thompson, a London estate agent, recently won £180,000 after her boss refused to let her leave work early to pick her daughter up from nursery.

This followed a refused request from Thompson to work part time schedule. This would grant her to finish at 5 o clock, allowing time to pick up her daughter from nursery.

The company director, Paul Seller, refused this request stating that the company could not afford for her to work part time.

Thompson refers to this period of time making her feel “undervalued and frustrated”. Expecting not to be able to return to work she expresses feeling stressed having to search for a new job.

Thompson began her employment for Manors estate agency in October 2016 with a salary of £120,000 a year.

Prior to her departure, the company director took his staff on a trip to New York. Thompson would tell the court that she felt isolated throughout the trip. As other colleagues would go out drinking, she felt excluded and instead shop and go back to the hotel. This would add to the tension between the two. Seller would find her attitude towards the trip “ungrateful”, costing him £25,000.

They would tell the court the contract requires her to work 9 a.m till 6 p.m with statutory sick pay. However, the contract would not include any details relating to maternity leave. Two staff members prior would receive maternity leave and a return on a part time basis.

On maternity, the director would refuse a part time contract on return. The company director detailed to the court his reason for his refusal. He would sight “additional costs” and an inability to meet customer demands in his defence. Additionally, he would tell the court the situation would leave him unable to reorganise work amongst other staff.

A tribunal panel, lead by Employment judge Sarah Jane Goodman, would agree, sex discrimination, as a key factor in the case.

Quotes from the hearing:

The tribunal judge stated:

“Losing a job unexpectedly is always a cause of unhappiness, shock, and sometimes anger, as shown by the way many employees react to redundancy, even when there has been proper consultation, and even when it is never suggested their performance was not good enough”.

It would continue “Here, Mrs Thompson resented that flexible working appeared not to be considered properly and felt that this was an injustice because of her sex, which it was”.

“Most mothers find they have difficult feelings returning to work after maternity even when it is a return to a familiar job. Mrs Thompson’s turmoil will have been worse because she had to start from scratch finding a job”.

Additional Notes

Four out of five of the total claims from Thompson would fail in the final judgement. These include;

  • The claim of discrimination because of pregnancy or maternity.
  • The claim of harassment related to pregnancy and maternity.
  • The unauthorised deductions claim (referral fees)

Thompson would however win the case with a claim of indirect sex discrimination.

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