Woman Wins £185,000 After Employer Denied Flexible Hours Request To Collect Daughter From Nursery
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A female estate agent has been awarded £185,000 in compensation after her boss refused to let her leave early to pick up her baby from nursery.
Alice Thompson, from Weybridge in Surrey, had been earning £120,000 a year as a full-time sales manager at Mayfair estate agency Manors - a role that required her to work until 6pm.
After giving birth in November 2018, Thompson requested to go part-time so she could work four days a week and finish at 5pm, in turn giving her the flexibility to pick up her young daughter from nursery.
Company director Paul Sellar rejected her request, telling Thompson that the extra costs and staff reorganisation involved to accommodate her made things 'unworkable'.
After resigning, Thompson took Manors to an employment tribunal, claiming sex discrimination in a bid to ensure her daughter does not have 'the same experience' when she grows up.
A hearing was told how Thompson started working for Manors in October 2016, and that her relationship with Sellar began to deteriorate when she told him she was pregnant in spring 2018.
She accused Sellar of saying to a colleague while they were at a private members' club together: "I thought, for f***'s sake, why is she pregnant when we are going so well? I was warned about employing a married woman of her age."
Thompson also claimed she felt 'excluded' when staff were taken on a trip to New York, as others went drinking on a boat trip while she - being pregnant - went shopping and back to the hotel.
When she eventually went on maternity leave, Thompson said she was made to feel like a 'leaver', and was forced to return her mobile phone and office keys by Sellar.
The panel heard she came into the office to 'clear the air' with Sellar later that month, but was allegedly told she was emotional as she was pregnant.
When she was still on maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter, Thompson requested a more flexible working arrangement, but was told Manors could not accommodate this.
After resigning, Thompson sued Scancrown Ltd - the company Manors trades as - for pregnancy and maternity discrimination, harassment, unauthorised deductions, unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination.
The panel agreed she had been indirectly discriminated against by Mr Sellars' denying her flexible working request, saying: "Losing a job unexpectedly is always a cause of unhappiness, shock, and sometimes anger, as shown by the way many employees react to redundancy, even when there has been proper consultation, and even when it is never suggested their performance was not good enough.
"Here, Mrs Thompson resented that flexible working appeared not to be considered properly (as in our finding it was not), and felt that this was an injustice because of her sex, which it was.
"Most mothers find they have difficult feelings returning to work after maternity even when it is a return to a familiar job.
"Mrs Thompson's turmoil will have been worse because she had to start from scratch finding a job at all.
"Her lack of success will have led a to a sense of failure. She said... that she was bringing the claim so that her daughter did not have the same experience.
"The nursery closing at 6pm aligns with standard office hours, and a requirement to work until 6pm each day did place her at a disadvantage, as she would not be able to get there in time.
"As for four day working, we do not know if that was wanted because of the long commute (up to 2 hours per day) or the cost of nursery care, but all told we accept that the requirement did put her at a disadvantage."
The tribunal rejected her other claims, saying Sellar's alleged remark had been after an evening of eating and drinking, and that 'if not said to her face', it was 'not harassment'.
Thompson will be awarded £184,961.32 for a loss of earnings, pension contributions, injury to feelings and interest.