Celia was employed as a part time cleaner by Cleanshine Ltd. This was a supplementary job. She carried out her cleaning work in part of a building leased by a company called VCD, who were a client of Cleanshine Ltd. VCD were frustrated with some of the cleaning services provided by Cleanshine Ltd. These issues existed before Celia’s employment began, and involved part of their building that Celia did not clean. Celia believed that VCD were pleased with her work as she had received positive text messages from their staff and in formal comments in Client Feedback Cards.
Between March and June 2020, Celia was placed on Furlough Leave. Towards the end of May, Cleanshine Ltd asked her if she would return to work in June. Their conversation was positive and there was no indication that they were unhappy with Celia’s performance or conduct.
When Celia returned to work in June, she was pregnant but sadly miscarried in late June. She was signed off work for two weeks. The reasons for her absence were communicated to Cleanshine Ltd by way of text messages and the fit notes issued by her GP. Celia also told her employer that she had a history of miscarriages and had been advised by her GP that, in the next pregnancy, she may need to spend the first trimester in hospital.
While Celia was off work due to the miscarriage, her employer drafted a letter asking her to attend a probationary review meeting. The letter warned Celia that Cleanshine Ltd wanted to discuss her attendance, cleaning standards and the fact that she had not disclosed her pregnancy before returning to work in June.
The accusations in the letter were unfair and unfounded as there was no obligation on Celia to disclose her pregnancy to her employer at that stage.
Celia attended the probationary review meeting and was criticised for her absences and was told that Cleanshine Ltd had concerns about her cleaning. She was also criticised for not having disclosed her pregnancy before returning to work. She was dismissed at this meeting.
Celia believed that the probationary review and subsequent dismissal were triggered by the miscarriage and her disclosure that she may need hospitalisation for any future pregnancy.
We advised her that she could bring claims for pregnancy and sex discrimination. As she did not have funds to instruct us and issued her claim as a litigant in person.
After issuing her claim, Celia discovered that she had legal expenses insurance and instructed us to represent her. We identified further documents for her employer to disclose for the hearing and helped her draft her witness statement, setting out a clear time line of events and demonstrating how the dismissal flowed from her disclosure of her pregnancy and the potential risk of hospitalisation if she were to become pregnant again.
We advised her to amend her claim to include sex discrimination. Throughout the process, we liaised with her legal expenses insurers and secured funding to cover the costs of an experienced barrister to represent her at the full hearing.
On the final day of the hearing, the Employment Tribunal found in Celia’s favour and Cleanshine Ltd was ordered to pay Celia £15,000 for injury to feelings. She did not incur any legal fees as her case was covered by Legal Expenses Insurance.