A mother has won her case for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal after she was sacked for requesting to take maternity leave.

Ms Rebecca Raven commenced employment with Howell’s School (a private boarding school) in October 2008 as a part-time house mistress. She was later transferred to the position of art teacher in 2009. Ms Raven’s problems started in May 2011 when she wrote to the headmistress to inform her that she was intending to commence maternity leave around the birth of her child. She stated that she believed she would only have to be absent for a term and then would return to work part-time. Believing that this was a fairly uncontroversial request, she was shocked when she was handed a letter notifying her of the termination of her contract of employment soon after. The letter stated that Ms Raven was being dismissed because of a lack of pupils enrolling in her art classes in the coming year.

At a later hearing in June 2011 Ms Raven was told that parents had complained about the potential disruption posed by her going on maternity leave. Minutes of meetings also revealed that staff were told that money was being wasted on sick pay and maternity pay and that sacrifices had to be made. She was subsequently dismissed and submitted claims to the Employment Tribunal relating to sex discrimination and unfair dismissal. At the Employment Tribunal in Shrewsbury the school attempted to defend its position by stating that it was not aware of Ms Raven’s impending pregnancy and that Ms Raven had been offered suitable alternative employment before she was made redundant. Further, the school stated that it was experienced in dealing with staff pregnancies in line with its opportunity policy. However, the Employment Tribunal found in favour of Ms Raven and decided that the school was liable for unfair dismissal, determining that she had been sacked because she was pregnant and not because of the need to make redundancies. A further Employment Tribunal hearing will be held to determine how much compensation Ms Raven will receive.

This post is a guest post by Redmans Solicitors, specialist unfair dismissal no win no fee solicitors

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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