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LEGAL UPDATE – Mother denied flexible working wins case

Mother denied flexible working wins case

Nicola Adedejia, former manager of the Barbican centre in London, has won her tribunal claim that a decision not to allow her flexible working hours to care for her children amounted to discrimination and was the reason she had been dismissed. Her claim for compensation is in excess of £100,000.

Mrs  Adedeji had worked for the Barbican Centre for 11 years and has an eight-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter. She first made a request for flexible working hours in the summer of 2006 after her mother had an accident and was no longer able to look after the children.  

In October that year Mrs Adedeji became pregnant with a third child. She had asked to work a double shift two days a week and also suggested a job share, but was turned down. Mrs Adedeji became extremely upset as she had no one to look after her children. The Barbican said that her job was too demanding to be done in any way apart from full-time and then subsequently terminated her contract.  

Just before she was dismissed Mrs Adedeji ‘s GP diagnosed that she was suffering from work-related stress, partly due to the worry about care for her children and signed her off sick for two weeks. Shortly after that, some ten weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs Adedeji miscarried. 

While she had originally claimed that the centre’s rejection of her request for flexitime had contributed to her miscarriage, she later withdrew the allegation. Mrs Adedeji told the tribunal that the Barbican’s house managers worked two shift times, one starting at 7.30am and the other ending at 11.30pm, seven days a week. She said: “Most childminders are not prepared to start that early or finish that late.”  

Mrs Adedeji said that she had been confident that her request to work a double shift on two fixed days a week would be granted. She said: “I was really shocked as I had thought it was a reasonable request. I knew I had the backing of my fellow house managers and I had proposed something that, in my opinion, worked within the house managers’ rota.”  

Ms Adedeji  claimed she was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on grounds of sex after her request for flexible working arrangements was rejected. The tribunal upheld both her claims and  a remedies hearing to decide compensation will take place in March, with Mrs Adedejia’s schedule of loss standing at just over £100,000. 

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