RSS Feed

Legal Updates

More Articles: Latest Popular Archives

Employer loses appeal against ACAS uplift after sacking two employees for becoming pregnant at the same time

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In Slade and others v Biggs and others Mrs Melissa Biggs and Ms Roxanne Stewart were both employed by Aethelbert Limited, which operates Woodlands Castle and Maunsel House in Somerset as venues for weddings and other events. These are properties which belong to Sir Benjamin Slade or to entities related to him.

Both Mrs Biggs and Ms Stewart informed Sir Benjamin that they were pregnant. The ET found that Sir Benjamin “found their becoming pregnant at roughly the same time as highly inconvenient”, and “he thereafter decided to dispense with their services and thus avoid the inconvenience of hiring temporary staff to stand in, in their absence”. Sir Benjamin “decided to engineer their departure from their employment”. He set about this by pursuing “a course of conduct”.

In the case of Mrs Biggs, this took the form of a “process” which “took… approximately two months, encompassing several events, including non-payment of SMP (particularly so at Christmas); being subjected to a spurious TUPE transfer to [the Company]; having her grievance ignored and finally the insistence as to a formal resignation from [the Company]”.

The Tribunal determined that the employer discriminated against both women on grounds of their pregnancy or maternity. The Tribunal applied the maximum uplift to both the award for injury to feelings and aggravated damages. The employer appealed this decision on the grounds that by applying the uplift to both awards this amounted to “double counting”.

The EAT dismissed the appeal. It held that there was no obvious or significant double counting applied to the uplift of both awards.

Receive more HR related news and content with our monthly Enewsletter (Ebrief)