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Employment Law Case Update: Pregnancy Discrimination

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Knowing how to manage a pregnant employee and being aware of their Employment Law rights from the outset is vital in order to avoid a potential Tribunal claim against you for discrimination.  Our Employment Law team today review the case of Jallow v QBE Management Services, which illustrates the importance of allowing pregnant employees to attend scheduled antenatal appointments, and of remembering that underlying frailties with staff aren’t always obvious.

Ms Jallow worked for QBE Management Services as an IT financial analyst since 2015. She returned from maternity leave, after having her first child, in January 2018. In her performance rating for that year she received feedback that she was satisfactory and meeting expectations.

In October 2018, Ms Jallow had a miscarriage and was subsequently diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was prescribed medication from her GP. Her employer was unaware of this as Ms Jallow did not report this.

Ms Jallow’s performance rating fell in 2018 due to her health issues and changes to her workload.

In March 2019 Ms Jallow was attending an antenatal appointment which was running an hour late. She phoned her manager to inform him of this fact and he told her on the call that she had taken too many days sick and too many appointments which were affecting her performance and she was told that she was letting the team down.

Ms Jallow rushed back to work and missed her antenatal appointment as she felt compelled to do work rather than attend the appointment.

Ms Jallow subsequently brought a claim for pregnancy discrimination to the Employment Tribunal (ET) which was upheld. The ET held that the criticism for performance and letting the team down, which was linked to Ms Jallow’s absences, amounted to discrimination. The ET commented that the criticism by her manager exacerbated her mental health condition and Ms Jallow was awarded £4,000 in compensation.

This case highlights the importance of an employer allowing an employee to attend scheduled antenatal appointments and illustrates that not doing so or making an employee feel guilty for attending such appointments can amount to discrimination. Also, that issues in performance should be sensitively discussed before potentially damaging criticisms are levelled.

If you have any questions regarding this article, you can call our Employment team today on 023 8071 7717 or email employment@warnergoodman.co.uk.

This was previously part of our weekly Employment Law Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe, please email us at events@warnergoodman.co.uk or just fill in our subscription form.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.