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Less favourable treatment after announcing divorce was marital status discrimination

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Claims for direct marital discrimination are rare and the proceedings in this case, Bacon v (1) Advanced Fire Solutions Ltd (2) Ellis were set against a background of a very acrimonious divorce between the Claimant, Mrs Bacon, a director, and her husband Mr Bacon, also a director. Mrs B informed Mr B that she wished to separate from him but subsequently assured Mr Ellis, the MD, that she could continue in her role without difficulty. However, Ellis admitted in evidence that he believed everything he was told by Mr B about the circumstances of the divorce without question. Afterwards, Ellis distanced himself from Mrs B and ceased to speak to her. Without informing Mrs B, Ellis advised the company accountants that she would no longer be working for the company. Ellis also removed Mrs B’s directorship without informing her, provided Mr B with a loan to pay for the legal costs of his divorce and was complicit with Mr B in urging the police to investigate Mrs B for alleged breaches of IT and cyber-attacks on the company. The ET was clear that Ellis was siding with Mr B and had subjected Mrs B to less favourable treatment because of her marital status to Mr B, as there was no other explanation for his actions.

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