Woman Wins Unfair Dismissal Case After Being Sacked While Pregnant
Aimee Sanderson worked for digital agency Bespoke in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire, when she told her boss Steve Brennan she was pregnant.
The 27-year-old says she was met with a sarcastic "well that's good news, isn't it," when she told him of her pregnancy in July 2017.
However, the mum-of-one found herself sacked for 'gross misconduct' in December 2017, five months after announcing her pregnancy and just a couple of months before she was due to go on maternity leave.
Aimee claimed "that her pregnancy or intended maternity leave was a material factor in the decision to dismiss her."
Mum-of-one Aimee's claims of unfair dismissal and unfavourable treatment were well founded, an employment tribunal found and she won the case.
The report said it appeared "Mr Brennan took a decision, even before disciplinary proceedings were initiated, that the claimant was to be dismissed and concerns were exaggerated in such a way as to attempt to justify a finding of gross misconduct."
Aimee was thrilled when found out she was pregnant, as she had suffered a miscarriage earlier in the year. However, when she told her boss she was shocked at his reaction.
Aimee, who lives with her husband Dean, 33, and their little baby Charlie in Garstang, said she was hauled into meetings about her performance before she was eventually dismissed for gross misconduct in December 2017.
She said: "Some of the things the CEO said to me throughout those months were dismissive. I had thought I'd had quite a good relationship with him before.
"I became convinced it was because I was pregnant."
Furious at her treatment, Aimee took her case to an employment tribunal, which found that her claims of unfair dismissal and unfavourable treatment were well founded.
Aimee said: "You can't imagine how it feels to feel that your job might be at risk. My stress levels went through the roof."
Aimee also claimed that after his response to her good news that she was pregnant, Mr Brennan also told her: "There's just too many people in that team and not enough work, you know what that means don't you?2
She said that his words came across to her like a "veiled threat," adding "his reaction was incredible. It knocked me off my feet.
"It was common knowledge in the office that I had had a miscarriage."
Staff at the firm had been critical when Aimee had called in to work with sickness relating to pregnancy and were "digging for information" from her colleagues to ask if she was under performing, Aimee said.
During the tribunal, Judge Slater said that "direct evidence of discrimination is rare."
He added: "We must consider what inferences we can properly draw from all the relevant surrounding circumstances."
Ahead of a disciplinary hearing, Mr Brennan set out his allegations in a letter to Aimee.
The grievances listed included Aimee not delivering on work promised to clients, which adversely affected the business' relationship with the clients.
According to the findings from the tribunal, the letter stated the company's views the allegations constituted gross misconduct.
In the concluding comments of the document which records the employment tribunal the report concluded "that her pregnancy or intended maternity leave was a material factor in the decision to dismiss her."
The report said: "It appears to us that Mr Brennan took a decision, even before disciplinary proceedings were initiated, that the claimant was to be dismissed and concerns were exaggerated in such a way as to attempt to justify a finding of gross misconduct."
Aimee's little boy Charlie is now a year old, and after receiving the tribunal results she is determined to begin a new chapter and is looking for a new job.
She said: "If I hadn't taken the company all the way that I took them, what happens when the next person gets pregnant?
"The whole experience put a lot of stress on my marriage, my parents.
"But if you do something that you know in your heart is right then I think you are stronger from it."
There will now be a Remedy Hearing where judges will decide how much Bespoke Digital Agency must award Aimee.
Lauren Grice, head of partnerships at Bespoke said in a statement that the company would be appealing the tribunal judgement.
She said: "In 18 years as an employer we have consistently supported staff through family matters and have never before had to attend a tribunal.
"The employee was dismissed for reasons of performance and conduct in 2017."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS