A female estate agent has won a sex discrimination claim against her employers after they refused to let her clock off early to collect her new baby from nursery.
Alice Thomson, from Weybridge, Surrey, was earning £120,000 a year as a full-time sales manager at Manors, a small firm in London, when she fell pregnant in 2018.
As the job required her to work until 6pm, when nurseries usually close, she asked to go part-time so she could work four days a week and finish at 5pm instead.
But company director Paul Sellar rejected the request, claiming the business couldn’t afford the new arrangement.
He also feared it would cause a ‘detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand’ and an ‘inability to reorganise work among existing staff’.
Ms Thomson resigned and took Manors to an employment tribunal, claiming she was driven to ensure her daughter does not have ‘the same experience’ when she grows up.
The panel awarded her £184,961.32 for loss of earnings, pension contributions, injury to feelings and interest, finding that the company’s insistence on a 6pm finish placed her at a ‘disadvantage’.
The hearing was told Ms Thomson was ‘successful’ and ‘well thought of’ at work, but tensions with Mr Sellar began after she revealed her pregnancy in Spring 2018.
At a party celebrating the news that summer, she claims she heard him tell a colleague ‘I thought, for fuck’s sake, why is she pregnant when we are doing so well? I was warned about employing a married woman of her age.’
She also accused the company of ‘excluding’ her when staff were taken on a trip to New York and organised a booze-fuelled boat trip which she had to sit out.
Mr Sellar thought she was ‘ungrateful’ to complain of feeling ‘isolated’ when the trip cost him £25,000, the tribunal heard.
After going on maternity leave, the new mum says she was made to feel ‘like a leaver’ as she was told to hand in her work phone and office keys.
At a meeting to ‘clear the air’ later that month, she was allegedly told she was emotional due to her pregnancy.
Ms Thompson, whose contract had no details on maternity leave, launched a grievance referring to her request to work flexibly and finally quit in December 2019.
Employment judge Sarah Jane Goodman found she had been discriminated against by the denial of her request, calling it an ‘injustice because of her sex’.
However she rejected other claims brought by the estate agent in relation to the alleged comments by Mr Sellar.
The panel said: ‘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.
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