How Sarah Henderson, expert Settlement Agreement solicitor based in our Brighton office, represented a client experiencing maternity discrimination and victimisation in the workplace, and negotiated a tax-free settlement of £30,000.
Jennifer was employed by Palmtree Ltd, an accountancy firm, as their Business Relationships/Office Manager. She was employed for over 5 years before she went on maternity leave in April 2019.
Jennifer was due to return to work in January 2021. In December 2020 she received notification that a disciplinary investigation had taken place and she was required to attend a disciplinary meeting to consider an alleged mistake she had made in August 2018 in arranging car insurance for one of the Directors’ daughters. She was also suspended so was unable to return to work.
Sarah assisted her in preparing a formal grievance stating that the disciplinary was an act of maternity discrimination and/or an act of victimisation as she had also challenged their decision not to offer her a 40 hour contract. This had been offered to her colleagues but not to her because she was on maternity leave. Her grievance also contained detailed complaints about the unreasonable conduct of her manager.
Palmtree Ltd proposed to hear the disciplinary and grievance together, which Sarah resisted. Jennifer remained suspended during this period rather than returning to work after maternity leave.
Neither her grievance, nor her disciplinary, had been heard by the time the country locked down in March 2020 and Jennifer was furloughed.
Sarah submitted her claims through the ACAS Early Conciliation process and lodged claims of maternity discrimination and victimisation to protect Jennifer’s position.
In April 2021, Jennifer was informed that her role was redundant due to the impact of the pandemic on Palmtree Ltd’s business. Sarah helped her challenge her selection for redundancy and unfair dismissal and lodged a further claim for unfair dismissal and victimisation which was consolidated with the original claim.
The combined claims were due to be heard in December 2021. In July 2021 we approached Palmtree Ltd’s solicitors on a “without prejudice” basis.
We managed to negotiate a tax free payment for Jennifer of £30,000 through a Settlement Agreement. Jennifer had mitigated her loss of earnings by securing another job and this settlement allowed for a significant sum for injury to feelings.
Jennifer had been discriminated against at a time when she should have been enjoying the end of her maternity leave with her son, who was born with a heart condition.
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