In the case of Ms T Mellor v The MFG Academies Trust Tara Mellor had been allowed to express milk in a special room at Mirfield Free Grammar School after her first child but was told this was ‘not an option’ due to Covid rules after her second baby. She repeatedly asked bosses for a room in which she could express milk to give her new-born daughter after work, an employment tribunal heard.
Instead, the mum was left with no other option than to either do it in the car park or the “often dirty” toilets during her 25-minute lunch break. Worried that students or anyone else walking past might see her in her car, she chose the toilets more often than not.
As making milk takes up to 20 minutes, Ms Mellor had little time for anything else during her break and was often forced to eat her lunch in the toilets, which she found “unhygienic” and “disgusting”.
She told an employment tribunal in Hull: “I found it unhygienic and disgusting to have to express in the toilets. Further, as I wasn’t allocated any time to express, I had to do it at lunch time and eat my lunch at the same time.
“I found it disgusting to have to eat my lunch in toilets, which were often dirty.”
Ms Mellor told the tribunal she believed the MFG Academies Trust had a “negative attitude” towards pregnancy and maternity. The Trust argued she “would have raised a grievance” with the company if she had had a “real issue with a place to express”.
However, it was ruled the school gave her “no choice” but to resort to the “humiliating” measures. Employment Judge Richard Mille said: “As the claimant reasonably and genuinely felt compelled to act in a way that she did not want to, she was we find forced to do so.
“We conclude, therefore, that the respondent did subject the claimant to unwanted conduct by forcing her to express milk in the toilet and/or car park.
“We find that the conduct of the respondent had the effect of creating a degrading and/or humiliating environment for the claimant.
This provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and the judgments made in every aspect of the case. Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.