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Solicitor wins sex discrimination case after being made redundant following birth of triplets

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In Mrs G Long v British Gas Trading Limited a lawyer has won a sex discrimination case after she was made redundant when her female bosses decided she had been ‘less focused’ since going part time after having triplets. Mrs Long had been working part-time ever since giving birth to her three children and was criticised for her ‘focus’, despite covering two people’s roles while only doing three days a week.

Mrs Long was an experienced solicitor who started working for the energy giant as their intellectual property counsel in January 2012. In May 2016, she went on maternity leave and gave birth to triplets. The tribunal heard one of her sons had ‘significant additional needs’.

When she returned from maternity leave in September 2017, Mrs Long worked as one of two intellectual property lawyers, with the workload divided between her and a full-time colleague. Mrs Long was paid £46,800 a year for a three-day working week.

The tribunal heard the full-time lawyer resigned in June 2018 and Mrs Long ‘started to feel pressure to work on her non-working days’ from her line managers. Mrs Long was informed that she was at risk of redundancy in June 2019.

She believed she was ‘consciously or unconsciously discriminated against’ on the grounds of sex and part time status because it was ‘assumed she was not performing as well as a full-time male colleague’ and was ‘less focused because she was a woman with triplets working three days a week’. Judge Gumbiti-Zimuto upheld Mrs Long’s claims of equal pay, sex discrimination, less favourable treatment on the grounds of part-time working and unfair dismissal.

He said: “These matters in our view also allow us to infer that [Mrs Long’s] personal circumstances as a mother of young children was unconsciously being held against her. We conclude that [Mrs Long] was treated less favourably than [the other male lawyer], a full-time male worker, in the process that resulted in her dismissal.

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