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Case Study: Negotiating a Settlement for an Employee who was Discriminated Against While on Maternity Leave

Employment Law Solicitors Negotiate a Large Settlement after a client was discriminated against while on maternity leave


How our dedicated Employment Lawyers based in our Brighton solicitors’ office negotiated a Settlement Agreement for a woman whose employer discriminated against her while she was on maternity leave by changing her contractual working hours.

The situation

Ms Davies worked for a large company for 8 years. After the birth of her first child, she suffered with postpartum psychosis. On her return to work, her manager allowed her to work on a flexible basis so that her full-time hours were condensed into a period of 4 days (Monday – Thursday). This arrangement was in place for 2 years before her second period of maternity leave and, therefore, reflected her contractual hours.

Shortly before returning to work after her second maternity leave, her manager requested that she make another flexible working application, so she could return to work on the same condensed hours. Ms Davies complied with this request but was refused permission to continue to work condensed hours. Her employer insisted that she work over a regular 5-day period.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

We helped Ms Davies appeal against her employer’s flexible working decision and assisted her in writing a formal grievance letter. We set out that she was entitled to return to work on the same terms, which meant that she was entitled to return to working on the condensed hours. We claimed that the employer was acting unlawfully in that it was discriminating against her, on grounds of her sex.

After submitting her grievance, the stress caused by the employer’s refusal to let her work condensed hours caused Ms Davies to become mentally ill and triggered the stress, anxiety and depression that she had suffered with historically and after the birth of her first child. A doctor signed her off for a period of 4 months.

We wrote to the employer, advising that Ms Davies had a disability and they had discriminated against her by failing to make any reasonable adjustments and, specifically, by requiring her to work full time regular hours.

Ms Davies made it clear that she did not want to return to work for her employer as trust and confidence had broken down.

Our specialist Settlement Agreement solicitors proposed terms for a Settlement Agreement, which were rejected.

We supported Ms Davies so that she could remain in employment on full sick pay and so she could attend her grievance hearing.

We insisted that her employer made reasonable adjustments to the grievance process and requested that they set out their questions in writing, in advance of the hearing and asked that her mother be allowed to attend to support her.

To protect Ms Davies’ entitlement to bring an Employment Tribunal claim against her employer, we submitted her details to comply with Acas Early Conciliation.

The result

Ms Davies’ employer accepted that she had been working the condensed hours for some time prior to her second period of maternity leave but did not accept there had been any discrimination. We drafted an appeal on Ms Davies’ behalf. This resulted in her employer making a financial settlement offer, based on our initial proposals. Ms Davies’ Settlement Agreement was finalised 2 weeks later.

If you need specialist Employment Law advice on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, we can help. Contact us on 01273 609911, or email to find out more.

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

Martin Searle Solicitors is the trading name of ms solicitors ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England under company number 05067303.

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