A SINGLE mum was told she “must have been having some fun lately” by her boss when she fell pregnant took him to a tribunal on her own – and won £15,000.
Clerk Bianca King, 31, was reduced to tears after she was repeatedly criticised and shouted at by George Dodds, 71, at his mortgage firm when she said was expecting.
She was branded ‘cheeky’ for asking to take holiday ahead of her maternity leave – then was deliberately locked out of the company’s computer systems on her last day.
After giving birth to daughter Winter Ivy, Bianca was contacted by Dodds to say her employment was being terminated because all workers were ‘converting to self-employed status’.
The mum then read up on employment law and took her boss to an employment tribunal, representing herself.
A panel has now decided she was the victim of “unfavourable treatment” at Mortgage Compare Ltd, of Northampton.
The panel found it was “completely satisfied that these acts were carried out because the claimant had advised them that she was pregnant” and due to take maternity leave.
It added: “No lawful or indeed any plausible alternative exists for that treatment.”
Bianca said: “The way I was treated was absolutely appalling, but I just want to say to anyone else out there that has been victimised at work, any woman, to never give up, that they are capable of something like this too.
“I actually found out I’d won the case on International Women’s Day, March 5, which was also Winter Ivy’s birthday. It was a reminder that women can be strong, and we can fight for our rights.”
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The tribunal heard Bianca started working at Mortgage Compare in September 2016.
In October 2018, she emailed Dodds telling him she was pregnant – but didn’t hear anything back until a week later when she asked for some holiday leave.
He granted the request – but then added Bianca “must have been having some fun lately”.
The next month she was shown a letter by Dodds ‘threatening’ that she was going to be laid off because the company couldn’t afford to keep her, followed by an email ordering her to take her lunch break between 1pm and 2pm “without any apparent previous difficulty with regard to her timekeeping.”
The tribunal heard there followed a “series of criticisms by Mr Dodds to the claimant regarding her standard of work; accusations regarding e-mails not being sent; and being shouted at on various occasions.
“This form of behaviour directed to the claimant by Mr Dodds had not been in evidence prior to the claimant’s pregnancy.
“On one such occasion the claimant was so upset she had to leave a group video call and went to the toilet in tears.”
After Dodds described Bianca as ‘cheeky’ for asking to take holiday before her maternity leave, a remark the panel described as “inappropriate”, she went into the office for her last day on January 30, 2019.
Bianca’s ordeal didn’t end once she was away from the workplace.
She failed to receive the correct maternity pay and was “largely ignored” when she chased it up.
Bianca never returned to work for Mortgage Compare and although the firm failed to send her a P45, the hearing was told there was “some dispute between the parties” as to whether she resigned or was sacked.
But in awarding her a total of £15,009 for injury to feelings, the panel said: “We have taken note of the fact that the claimant was extremely distressed by the events set out in this judgement.
“Her pregnancy was her first pregnancy and she had been very much looking forward to the birth of her child.
“The claimant was undoubtedly not only upset by the events but became stressed. Eventually, she had to see her GP and was prescribed medication for anxiety and stress.
“At a time when she ought to have been looking forward to the birth of her child she had to deal with the events described in our judgement and a subsequent deterioration in her health.”