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27th April 2023

Paralegal Succeeds In Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

woman with head in her hands

In the recent case of Farzana Yasin v Swift Lawyers Ltd (2407552/2021) the Employment Tribunal held that Ms Yasin (‘the Claimant’) was discriminated against on the grounds of pregnancy but was not unfairly dismissed.

The Respondent was a Law Firm and the Claimant commenced employment in 2017 as a paralegal working on cavity wall insulation claims. During her employment, she had two consecutive periods of maternity leave. In January 2021, whilst on furlough the Claimant announced to the Respondent that she was pregnant for a third time. Shortly after the Respondent announced that they were no longer taking cavity wall claims and therefore the Claimant’s position would be made redundant. The Claimant was dismissed on 18 March 2021 by reason of redundancy.

It was held that the Respondent’s decision to dismiss the Claimant was not solely or principally due to her pregnancy although it was a contributing factor. In 2016 the government announced its intention to reform Personal Injury litigation. As a result of this the Respondent reduced its work accordingly.

In assessing her unfair dismissal claim, the Tribunal held that there was a genuine reason for her dismissal and her pregnancy was not the reason she was selected. However, the redundancy process did not allow for a genuine and meaningful consultation. It was held that during the initial call warning the Claimant of redundancy she was advised she was being made redundant and not at risk of redundancy and any subsequent process was simply a ‘box ticking’ exercise. In addition to this, the Respondent did not properly explore suitable alternative employment and had she had not of been pregnant she may have been offered work in the conveyancing department.

The Tribunal awarded the Claimant £15,000.00 for injury to feelings (plus interest of £2,278.36), £1,013.90 for loss of earnings and an additional award of £500 for loss of statutory right. She was not entitled to a basic award as when she was made redundant, she received at redundancy payment. The Claimant received a total of £18,792.26.

It is clear from this judgement that although the Respondent had a genuine redundancy situation, because they did not follow a fair process and were influenced by other factors (namely the Claimant’s pregnancy) the Tribunal held that they had they had discriminated against her.

It is important to not make any perceived decision about the outcome of a redundancy process before it is undertaken as there is a risk that the Tribunal will find that meaningful consultation was not undertaken.

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