Victory for care worker dismissed for being pregnant

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A woman, who was dismissed from her job in a care home because she was pregnant, has left court victorious after being awarded £20,000 in a discrimination case against her former employer.

In July 2009 Ms Furbear was offered a job with Heddmara Limited in one of their care homes. She was employed as a care assistant helping adults with learning disabilities. She informed the manager at the time that she was pregnant before accepting the job.

During her probationary period, Ms Furbear was unable to carry out the full range of duties, such as heavy lifting, because of the effects of her pregnancy. This caused some resentment among other staff members. She was also denied time off for her antenatal appointments, permission to use a lift in the building and, at times, was forced to lift patients. She was also put under pressure to work weekends against her doctor’s advice.

Ms Furbear was dismissed nine weeks into her 12 week probationary period.

The Tribunal accepted her evidence, finding that Heddmara had dismissed her for reasons that clearly related to her pregnancy. While some steps were taken to accommodate her pregnancy, these were not communicated to staff more broadly. The Tribunal said the onus was on the employer to tell staff what Ms Furbear could and could not do.

John Wadham, Group Director Legal, said:

“The Commission’s research has shown that pregnant women are amongst the most discriminated group of people in the workforce, with 30,000 losing their jobs each year as a result of their pregnancy.

“Employers who make small and reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of their pregnant employees can continue to reap the benefits of their hard work and dedication. This judgment should serve as a reminder of what is expected of all employers, particularly those in this growing and female dominated sector.

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