Woman wins case after flexible working request is turned down

Two mums have won tribunal cases related to flexible working and maternity discrimination respectively.

Close up of child's hands playing with colorful plastic bricks and red motocicle at the table. Toddler having fun and building out of bright constructor bricks. Early years childcare


An estate agent has been awarded more than £180,000 after her flexible working request was turned down.

Alice Thompson, a sales manager at Manors agency in London, requested to work part time –  four days a week and to finish at 5pm rather than 6pm so that she could get home in time to pick up her child before her nursery closed.

Her manager refused the request, citing that it would have a ‘detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand’ and that there was an ‘inability to reorganise work among existing staff’.  Thompson eventually resigned in late 2019 and made a claim to the employment tribunal for sex discrimination on the grounds that women are more likely to be the main carer of their children.

The tribunal found in her favour with regard to the flexible working request, saying working til 6pm placed her at a disadvantage and awarded her £184,961.32.

The firm is thought to mainly work with customers overseas. Thompson had been working there since 2016, initially on a salary of £120,000 a year. The tribunal heard that she was doing well, but that her relationship with her manager soured after she announced that she was pregnant in 2018.

She told the tribunal, for instance, that, at a party soon afterwards her manager had told a colleague: ‘I thought, for f***’s sake, why is she pregnant when we are doing so well? I was warned about employing a married woman of her age.’ He denies saying this and the panel stated: “It is plausible that this was said as an unguarded remark after an evening of eating and drinking.

“It was not said to (her) face and possibly not in her hearing. In our finding, it was not harassment. If not said to her face, that was not its purpose; as an isolated remark, it lacked the strength to be intimidating or hostile.”

Maternity discrimination

Another employment tribunal case found in favour of a woman who was dismissed on maternity leave after she refused to take a more junior role with a £20,000 pay cut.

Marketing director S Shipp was the victim of a “serious case of maternity discrimination” , the London Central employment tribunal found, saying that she was treated worse than her male colleagues at City Sprint UK due to being on maternity leave.

The tribunal found she was subjected to a “humiliating and degrading environment”, for instance, when she announced her pregnancy a bet was placed as to how much weight she would gain. When she went on maternity leave there was a restructure, but she was not consulted on it. After being told her role was potentially being made redundant, Shipp found an organisational chart where her role was missing. She was then offered a more junior role with a pay cut, unlike male peers who were part of the restructure. When she was made redundant, the tribunal heard that messages were exchanged to the effect that ‘the crisis is over’ and that the company could appoint an alternative person to her role who could join the board after six months to avoid tribunal claims.

The tribunal found in her favour on in relation to unfair dismissal, pregnancy/maternity discrimination, indirect sex discrimination and breach of contract and City Sprint UK was ordered to pay her £30,000 in compensation.

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