Miss Thompson worked for Really Easy Car Credit Limited (the Company) for a short period of time until the Company terminated her employment during her probationary period.
The Company decided to terminate Miss Thompson’s employment on 3rd August 2016 and arranged a meeting to inform Miss Thompson of this decision on 5th August 2016. However, Miss Thompson informed the Company on 4th August 2016 that she was pregnant. Nevertheless the Company proceeded with the termination meeting on 5th August 2016.
Miss Thompson subsequently brought claims of pregnancy discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal, which were successful in the Employment Tribunal.
The Company however were successful in their appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The EAT stated the correct test in a pregnancy discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal case was whether the decision to dismiss had been because of the pregnancy. Just because an employer knew about a pregnancy does not automatically mean a dismissal is because of the pregnancy.
The case has been remitted back to the Employment Tribunal to determine whether the Company re-examined their decision to dismiss once they learnt about Miss Thompson’s pregnancy, and if so, whether the decision to dismiss had anything to do with Miss Thompson’s pregnancy.
This case is a useful reminder to employers that employees do not necessarily need 2 years’ service to bring a claim of unfair dismissal, especially when the dismissal is due to pregnancy or maternity leave.
It is a common employment law myth that businesses cannot dismiss an employee when they are pregnant or on maternity leave. However, employers must follow the correct procedure when terminating someone’s employment, especially the reason for the dismissal.
MFG Solicitors can advise on employment rights and help employers carry out their legal duties. For more information about how we could help you, please contact us.