Pregnant woman 'told to resign' awarded £18,000 compensation

A customer service assistant who said she was told to resign after her employer discovered she was pregnant has been awarded £18,000 after making a discrimination claim.

The case involved Mrs N Agarwal and St John Freight System UK.

Mrs Agarwal had worked for the company since 2017.

The employment offer, in the form of a letter, stated that she would work in the company’s office between 9am to 3pm, and from home between 4.30pm to 5.30pm.

Both parties agreed that working from home had not been ideal because she needed access to the computer in the office. Despite this, nothing was done about her working arrangements until she became pregnant.

She experienced bleeding and left the office to go to hospital. She rang her manager to explain why she was absent and informed him that she was pregnant. 

At that point, her manager informed her that she would have to start coming into the office full time and if she were unable to do so she should resign.

This caused her to experience panic and stress, so she signed off sick for a total of four months.

When she informed the company that she was ready to return to work, she was told: “Please ensure you are in the office between 9am and 5.30pm with a 1 hr lunch break”. She replied that she could not work the extra hours and would only stay until 3pm.

She brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal, which ruled that she had been treated unfairly and that St John Freight had discriminated against her by changing her hours and work location without her agreement.

Judge Catrin Lewis said that the requirement to work in the office full time between the hours of 9am to 5:30pm would not have been imposed on her if not for the pregnancy-related illness.

She added: “The respondent (the employer) used the opportunity of her seeking to return from that absence to impose a requirement that she worked in the office until 5 or 5:30pm where previously she had been able to work from 9 am only until 3pm.”

Agarwal was awarded £18,405 for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.

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