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Admin worker, 34, who was fired by her female boss after telling her she was pregnant wins £14,000 payout as tribunal hears she lost her unborn baby weeks after being sacked

  • Charlotte Leitch was sacked by her boss after telling her she was pregnant
  • The 34-year-old was awarded more than £14,000 by an employment judge
  • Miss Leitch explained during the meeting she had suffered eight miscarriages

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An admin worker has won more than £14,000 in a discrimination case after she was sacked by her female boss immediately after telling her she was pregnant.

Being fired from her job caused ‘absolute chaos’ in Charlotte Leitch’s life and sadly she lost her unborn child just weeks later. 

Miss Leitch told a London tribunal that she was left feeling ‘degraded and worthless’ after her employment was terminated after revealing to her manager that she was expecting a baby.

The 34-year-old had only been in her new £20,000-a-year role at the security system supplier in Essex for a few weeks before she was forced to leave.

Charlotte Leitch was awarded more than £14,000 after being fired from her admin job at CIS Services immediately after telling her boss she was pregnant

Charlotte Leitch was awarded more than £14,000 after being fired from her admin job at CIS Services immediately after telling her boss she was pregnant

CIS Services (pictured), in Essex, was sued for pregnancy discrimination and unfair dismissal

CIS Services (pictured), in Essex, was sued for pregnancy discrimination and unfair dismissal

A judge accused the Essex-based CIS Services’ head of compliance Nicola Calder  of ‘taking advantage’ of Miss Leitch’s emotional state.

The assistant had told her about suffering previous miscarriages and her fears over her new pregnancy when she fired her – initially trying to make out it was a mutual agreement. 

An employment tribunal has now awarded her £14,885 in compensation after deciding that Miss Leitch had been fired for a reason ‘connected with her pregnancy’.

The east London hearing was told that Miss Leitch joined the company in May 2021 as an administrative assistant but raised concerns about her contract.

As a result, she had not yet signed the document when a little over a month after joining she told Mrs Calder she was pregnant.

The tribunal heard that at the meeting she explained that she was concerned about the wellbeing of her baby as she had suffered traumatic events relating to previous pregnancies, including eight miscarriages.

‘(She) explained that she was a little overwhelmed. She explained that she previously had miscarriages and was not sure if this pregnancy would be successful.

‘She told Mrs Calder how distraught she and her partner were over losing their previous twins.’

A judge accused the Essex-based CIS Services' head of compliance of 'taking advantage' of Miss Leitch's emotional state

A judge accused the Essex-based CIS Services’ head of compliance of ‘taking advantage’ of Miss Leitch’s emotional state

In response, her boss claimed that she was not entitled to maternity leave as she had not signed her new employee contract.

The hearing was told Mrs Calder added that as Miss Leitch had not signed the document, the company did not need to keep her in the job – telling her: ‘We have no obligation to keep you on’.

She was then given the option of leaving there and then, working until the end of the day or until the next day, the tribunal heard.

In an email following the meeting, Miss Leitch told Mrs Calder and Chris Clark, company director: ‘This has made me feel uncomfortable, created an immediate financial stress additional to being made to feel that I and my baby are insignificant to the company.

‘I am extremely disheartened that I have been treated this way and the trust and support which was expected from HR or the Director was not offered.’

Mrs Calder alleged that Miss Leitch had indicated that she wanted to leave her job during the initial meeting, and said she was simply offering the employee options for a final date of work.

The company then said that it had already decided to terminate Miss Leitch’s employment if she did not sign her contact as it was concerned about her work performance.

A letter sent to the ex-employee said: ‘The decision to terminate your employment was made irrespective of you being pregnant and we categorically deny that we have discriminated against you.’

The tribunal rejected this and concluded that both of Miss Leitch’s claims of pregnancy discrimination and unfair dismissal were well-founded.

Employment Judge Carol Porter said: ‘Words were spoken under emotional stress and Mrs Calder took advantage of the situation and took steps to terminate [Miss Leitch’s] employment, giving [her] options as to the date when she would leave, and seeking, in the first instance, to make out that this was a mutual agreement.

‘However, as soon as [Miss Leitch] challenged that, Mrs Calder did not persist with that false assertion, but sent the letter confirming that the [assistant] had indeed been dismissed.

‘Having considered all the circumstances, we find that the principal reason for dismissal, the reason uppermost in Mrs Calder’s mind was (Miss Leitch’s) pregnancy and (her) history of pregnancy related illness.

‘(She) was dismissed for a reason connected with her pregnancy.’

Miss Leitch hopes the outcome of her case will encourage other women facing pregnancy discrimination to take action

Miss Leitch hopes the outcome of her case will encourage other women facing pregnancy discrimination to take action

The tribunal agreed that the dismissal had ‘a severe impact’ on Miss Leitch’s mental health.

Miss Leitch, who lives in Rochford, Essex, said afterwards: ‘[Mrs Calder] is a mother herself. I would have thought she’d have that empathy.

‘I wasn’t expecting her to do that. I was really shocked. It was unreal, so unprofessional. They just didn’t care.

‘I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t ‘you can leave now or tomorrow’. Then to be told I’ve got no rights – it was only when I got home and I looked it up that I realised I did.

‘It’s not right – we should not be put in this situation, you can’t treat women like that.’

Following the termination of employment, Miss Leitch sadly lost her unborn child in August 2021.

She also split up with her partner of six years, saying that the ‘nightmare’ had ‘destroyed’ them as a couple, and is currently unemployed while she recovers.

Miss Leitch, who says she has suffered eight miscarriages in total, said: ‘I am going through therapy, I did lose a child in the end. It traumatised me.

‘It had a severe impact on my life, it caused absolute chaos. I couldn’t hold down another job – I got panic attacks all the time.’

Miss Leitch hopes the outcome of her case will encourage other women facing pregnancy discrimination to take action.

She said: ‘We can stand up for ourselves, and I’m happy that other women can use my case in the future so it doesn’t happen to them. Employers don’t need to destroy people’s lives – every life matters. To put a pregnant woman through that is horrendous.

‘You should not be bullied out of work. We can stand up for ourselves, and there is support. Go to ACAS – they can tell you what the rules are.’

Source: Daily Mail UK

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