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Automatic Unfair Dismissal and Pregnancy Discrimination

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What should you do if you decide to dismiss an employee only to then discover they are pregnant before the dismissal has been communicated?
In the case of Really Easy Car Credit Limited V Thompson, Mrs Thompson was dismissed during her probationary period. The company argued that the reason for dismissal was based on her poor performance and conduct, however Mrs Thompson argued that it was because she had informed them of her pregnancy.
Mrs Thompson claimed that the company had lied about when the decision to dismiss her had been made and that it was only made after they had learnt of her pregnancy and not before as they claimed. Mrs Thompsons version of events was rejected by the Employment Tribunal, but they still held that it was an automatic unfair dismissal and pregnancy discrimination, because once the employer knew of the pregnancy then it must have been obvious that the issues which gave rise to the dismissal were related to the pregnancy.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal however, on 3rd January 2018, rejected this argument. The decision to dismiss could not have been because of the pregnancy when they knew nothing about it at that time. However, the case has been sent back to the tribunal to consider whether the directors re-examined their decision to dismiss after they had learned of the pregnancy. If they did re-examine, then that may be grounds to allow the claim to succeed after all.
If therefore you would like to better understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women, then contact a member of our Employment Law team on 01274 864999.

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