Firm discriminated against pregnant woman by extending probation

The Employment Tribunal has ruled that an employer discriminated against a woman when it extended her probationary period after discovering she was pregnant.

Charlotte Kimberley was appointed as a contracts administrator by Calibre Building Services on 8 June 2016 and agreed a start date of 20 June. However, five days before she was due to start, she discovered that she was pregnant.

She didn’t inform Calibre of her pregnancy before she took up her position as she didn’t believe it was necessary to do so.

She eventually told her office manager Kim Lowe that she was 12-weeks pregnant on 25 July. Ms Lowe appeared to be “completely thrown” by the news but later held a meeting with Ms Kimberley and told her that her employment would not be affected.

However, over the following months her probation period was twice extended amid concerns about her performance and at a meeting on 20 December, she was told she would have to undergo another probation period after returning from maternity leave.

She brought a claim of direct discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy

Under section 18 of the Equality Act 2010, an employer discriminates against a woman if in the protected period in relation to a pregnancy of hers, she is treated unfavourably because of the pregnancy.

The Employment Tribunal found in Ms Kimberley’s favour.  Employment Judge Harrington said: “We are entirely satisfied that the Claimant’s pregnancy was an effective cause of her probationary period being extended for a second time and that the Claimant was therefore, again, subjected to unfavourable treatment because of her pregnancy.”

A second hearing was scheduled to determine how the situation should be remedied and to set the level of compensation if appropriate.

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