A WOMAN was awarded more than £5,000 after she claimed her “frustrated” female boss fired her for being pregnant.
Poppy Hedges-Staines was working at a social work firm when she alleged her boss Cheryl Finlayson “put a downer” on her positive pregnancy news.
2Poppy Hedges-Staines, 30, was just eight weeks pregnant and hadn’t told her family the good news when she informed workCredit: Facebook2Cheryl Finlayson, director of Ipswich-based CF Social Work, fired Poppy two months after being informed of her pregnancyCredit: FacebookThe former employee told an employment tribunal that the director told her: “Poppy, we’ve only just put you on a contract, and now you are telling me you are pregnant.”
Poppy told the Daily Mail: “It was really disappointing. I couldn’t believe that she said it – both as a woman and having children.
“She put a real dampener on my fantastic news.
“It was also shocking to be treated that way because of the line of work that we do, helping families out and children.”
In response to being fired just two months later, the mum-to-be sued for discrimination and argued that the comments made justified as “unfavourable treatment”.
The hearing in Cambridge was told the 30-year-old began working as a self-employed social work assistant for Ipswich-based CF Social Work from November 2019 and was given a fixed term contract in July the following year.
The tribunal heard that on 6 November, Poppy was due to visit a client’s home but rang Cheryl, who was on duty, to tell her she couldn’t go.
She claimed she told Cheryl she couldn’t visit the client because the father of the child had suspected scabies, and then informed her boss she was pregnant.
The tribunal was told her boss replied: “Poppy, we’ve only just put you on a contract, and now you are telling me you are pregnant.”
Cheryl denied making the comment and told the tribunal she could not have said it as her former employee had not “just” been given a contract.
However, while the tribunal concluded that the second part of the remark had not been made, she had uttered the “contract” comment.
The panel said: “At this time (she) was at the very early stages of her pregnancy. She advised her employer at the very first opportunity and before even telling family members, because of the early stages of pregnancy and concerns that matters might not proceed satisfactory.
“In her words the reply, ‘put a downer’ on her happiness at her pregnancy.”
Pregnancy symptoms and Covid led to reduced working hours for Poppy during December, the tribunal heard.
In January 2021, she was told due to the pandemic, local authorities were looking for employees who could work 48-hour shifts and sleep-ins, which she couldn’t do.
The company therefore concluded there was no suitable work available for her and dismissed her with four weeks’ notice, the tribunal heard.
But Poppy claimed she was fired for being pregnant.
However, the tribunal was told that two other Social Work Assistants who were on six-month fixed-term contracts were also dismissed at the same time.
While the pregnancy discrimination relating to her dismissal was thrown out, Poppy won her claim for unfavourable treatment.
The company was ordered to pay her £5,134 including £4,500 for injury to feelings and Employment Judge Michael Ord said: “We have found on the balance of probabilities that Ms Finlayson did tell [Miss Hedges-Staines] in response to being informed of [her] pregnancy, ‘Poppy, we’ve only just put you on a contract.’
“However, the thought process behind the words that we have found were used was frustration that a recently appointed and valued member of staff might not be available to carry out the full range of her duties and would thereafter be taking a period of maternity leave.
“We are satisfied that the remark amounted to unfavourable treatment based on [Miss Hedges-Staines’] pregnancy.”
This comes after other furious employees have sued their boss for wrongful treatment, including Victoria Lindsay.
Victoria, a bank worker, suffers from PTSD, and was signed off work at the time due to her severe anxiety.
She had permission to run a cake-making business along side her HBOS job, and not only was it a hobby, she found it therapeutic for her mental health.
But, her manager allegedly bombarded her with calls while she was off work, and even saw her have a 30-minute panic attack in front of her two children.
It also ultimately led to the mum resigning from her job of more than 20 years, and sue the bank for constructive unfair dismissal.
Victoria, who worked for the bank in Scotland, won £22,304 after suing HBOS for constructive unfair dismissal.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk