Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

Caragh Bailey
5 min read
Pregnancy Discrimination Claim explained by Employment Law Friend

Case Ref:
Case Name:
Ms D Topping v Stepping Stones Nursery (Hoddlesden) Ltd
Relates to:
Maternity and Pregnancy Rights, Unfair Dismissal, Unlawful Deduction from Wages, Working Time Regulations

Another pregnancy discrimination claim succeeds

    Darci Topping began working as a nursery nurse at a Stepping Stones nursery in Lancashire, and the following week informed her employers that she was pregnant.

    A few days later her line manager made various comments to her, questioning whether she was going to keep the baby, whether she should keep the baby, and who the father was. These comments took place within the first two weeks of Ms Topping’s employment, and during – as she was reminded at the time – her probationary period.

    The Covid pandemic then reached Britain, and the nursery asked all staff what hours they could reduce to, because they were concerned about children dropping out, and their finances.

    At around the same time Ms Topping became concerned that she ought to shield because of her pregnancy, and agreed with her employers that she would do so, by going on sick leave and receiving SSP.

    The very next day, she was asked to attend the office and agree to her hours being reduced from 37 to 20 – although she had agreed to go on SSP, which was in fact less than 20 hours per week pay. No other employees were asked to reduce their hours.

    When furlough started, Ms Topping received 80% of her salary, but it was 80% of the 20 hours and not the original 37 hours. All of her colleagues received 80% of their 37 hours a week salary.

    Towards the end of April 2020, Ms Topping was asked to call the nursery, and was informed that she was going to be made redundant.

    No one else was made redundant, no selection criteria was used, and the furlough scheme with no employer contribution was set to continue for some time.

    A few days later Ms Topping was again asked to call the nursery and on doing so, was now informed that she had been placed in a pool and a selection criteria performed which had led to her being made redundant.

The document providing this selection criteria was created (according to the metadata before the tribunal) several days after it was dated and Ms Topping informed she had been made redundant.

Manchester Employment Tribunal decided that Ms Topping’s pregnancy had “operated in the minds” of her employers on being asked to agree to her reduction in hours, not least because no other employees were asked to do this and because there was no obvious benefit to the Respondent when she was in receipt of SSP which was in fact less than her new reduced hours.

The same mind set had occurred in “selecting” Ms Topping for redundancy, which occurred during the middle of the furlough scheme when there was no financial benefit to the employer in dismissing her. This also went against Government advice at the time, and crucially no one else was made redundant – indeed the tribunal was concerned that none of the people placed in a pool with the Claimant and apparently assessed alongside her were even made aware of the fact.

Although the employer argued that they were concerned about potential costs associated with the furlough scheme, this too was rejected, not least because Ms Topping was earning less than any of the other nursery workers being paid only 80% of 20 hours rather than 37 hours.

Although some may sympathise with an employer who finds out about an employee’s pregnancy just a week after they have started a new job, the law protecting pregnant employees is strict, and because pregnant woman so often face discrimination, tribunals consider such cases particularly carefully.

In this case, the employers’ arguments regarding having to make various changes to Ms Topping, but only Ms Topping’s employment for financial reasons, simply made no sense whatsoever, and were at times contradictory and nonsensical.

That stance would have significantly undermined any other evidence that put forward, and could result in higher compensation being paid to Ms Topping when that is decided at a later date.

Although it raises no new legal issues, the extreme and obvious nature of the pregnancy discrimination explains why this has been so widely reported in the press, for example: Mirror Online & The Independent.

Frequently Asked Questions
There is no cap for the size of award that the tribunal can grant for pregnancy discrimination. If you win an award it will be based on any loss of earnings plus 'injury to feelings'.

There are three tiers of compensation for injury to feelings, they range from less to more serious cases, and are called Vento bands.
Employment cases are not just won or lost based on who is right or wrong, each case will depend on various laws and statutes, as well as the conduct and legal strategy of the claimant and the respondent (and their legal teams).

If you want to get a fast, affordable, professional legal opinion on the initial prospects of your claim, book an initial assessment with an employment specialist today.

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If you would like to know more about what types of pregnancy discrimination are protected by employment law, read this guide on Pregnancy Discrimination.
You can read more on your rights, and find examples of direct discrimination and harassment in our guide on pregnancy discrimination.
Compensation is based on any loss, such as loss of earnings or benefit. Plus, 'injury to feelings', which falls into three bands based on severity of the case. These are called Vento bands.

If you want to get a fast, affordable, initial opinion on whether your claim has merit - and if so, what it could be worth - book an initial assessment today.

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support

Have you faced wrongful termination due to pregnancy?

If you have a claim for pregnancy discrimination, you are not alone. From raising a grievance, to negotiating a settlement, get in touch to see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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