Sally-Anne Shipp has won a £30,000 lawsuit against her former company after male bosses asked whether her baby was planned and allegedly took bets on how much weight she would gain in pregnancy
A woman has won a £30,000 lawsuit against her former company after male bosses asked whether her baby was planned and allegedly took bets on how much weight she would gain in pregnancy.
When marketing director Sally-Anne Shipp was on maternity leave she was told she was at risk of redundancy from her £100,000 job at City Sprint, a same-day delivery service based in London.
She was later sacked because she refused to do the same job under a lesser title for a £20,000 pay cut.
An employment tribunal ruled her dismissal was unfair and awarded her compensation for maternity and sex discrimination after it was revealed male colleagues who had role changes did not suffer similar pay cuts.
In February 2019 she told some of her colleagues she was pregnant and Craig Eddy, director of operations, asked her when she stopped taking contraception.
The Central London hearing was told he also asked how she thought her pregnancy would ‘affect her long-term career prospects’.
In May 2019, during an executive team meeting, the same colleague told her ‘when you have to leave that little one at nursery, you won’t want to come back’.
The tribunal heard two other members of the executive team — Darren Taylor and the then divisional chief executive Paul Gisbourne — asked whether her pregnancy had been planned.
City Sprint director of operations Craig Eddy (left) asked her when she stopped taking contraception, the tribunal heard. Mrs Shipp says then divisional chief executive Paul Gisbourne (right) ‘put a wager on how much weight she would put on during her pregnancy’ — a remark he denied making
When she was on maternity leave she was told she was at risk of redundancy from her £100,000 job at City Sprint, a same-day delivery service based in London
Mrs Shipp also claimed Mr Gisbourne said they should ‘put a wager on how much weight she would put on during her pregnancy’ — a remark he denied making.
She said she found these comments ‘offensive and humiliating’ and told Commercial Director Rosie Bailey she was ‘upset and frustrated’, raising the matter informally with Georgina Kilcoyne, Head of HR, before she went on maternity leave.
The tribunal heard Mrs Shipp started her maternity leave in June 2019 and was due to return to work in March 2020.
But by the end of July 2019 she was the only remaining member of the group executive team due to redundancies and colleagues resigning.
The company decided to restructure, but the tribunal heard nobody contacted Mrs Shipp to inform her of the changes.
More than three-quarters of mothers on maternity leave have had to cover income gaps
More than three-quarters of mothers have had to find ways to cover income gaps due to taking maternity leave, a survey has found.
As the average year-long maternity leave may typically only cover around 54 per cent of a woman’s salary, mothers have had to find ways to make up the typical shortfall of £12,852 compared with if they had been working, according to Direct Line Life Insurance.
Its research found that 76 per cent of recent or expectant working mothers have had to find a way to cover the loss of earnings during their maternity leave, including scrimping, dipping into savings and asking family for help.
The most common ways recent and expectant mothers have looked to save money is on everyday shopping such as groceries and clothing.
Nearly a fifth of mothers have been given financial help by friends or family members.
For some, the loss of income has meant relying more on the other household income, with 17 per cent saying their partner had to work longer hours and 13 per cent reporting their partner had to get a second job.
Some 16 per cent of mothers said they had worked longer hours themselves before going on maternity leave.
Just under a fifth, however, said they were in a secure enough financial position not to need to consider covering the shortfall.
More than a third of expectant mothers or those who have recently had a child planned to, or had already, returned to work on the same hours they were on before maternity leave, the survey found.
Employment Judge Harjit Grewal said Mr West ‘overlooked the fact that [Mrs Shipp] was on maternity leave at the time and no one at [City Sprint] had contacted her… to discuss with her the huge changes that were taking place’.
The tribunal heard Mrs Shipp was told her role was being made redundant by email, to which she replied: ‘Receiving an email like this out of the blue whilst on maternity leave is not an acceptable way of dealing with a situation such as this.’
She was not included on the new organisation chart and became ‘concerned that she was being disadvantaged by not physically being in the office’.
The tribunal heard she was offered a ‘sham’ director of marketing role which was paid £20,000 less per year. In contrast, one male colleague was demoted but retained his salary and three others were given bigger roles and their salaries were increased.
The role also required her to work from the office four days a week, which she felt had ‘deliberately been put there as a barrier to her being able to accept the role’.
Mrs Shipp raised a grievance in December 2019 saying: ‘It seems very “convenient” that the only person who has been demoted from the operating board level, is the person who was on maternity leave at the time the decisions were made.’
She also raised the comments previously made to her by male colleagues about her pregnancy.
The men admitted making the comments, except Mr Gisbourne who denied making a comment about having a wager on how much weight Mrs Shipp would put on. He has since left City Sprint and did not give evidence at the tribunal.
Her grievance was dismissed and in March 2020 she wrote to Ms Bailey: ‘I am extremely aggrieved that the majority of my maternity leave (nearly 6 months) has been put into complete disarray and I have been put under immense stress and anxiety in one of the most important times in my life.’
Her employment was terminated in September 2020 after she refused to accept the new role offered to her.
She then raised claims of maternity and sex discrimination with an employment tribunal.
Of remarks made by her male colleagues, Judge Grewal said: ‘A number of comments were made by colleagues before she started maternity leave… [which] amounted to pregnancy/maternity discrimination.
‘The comments were unwanted and they had the effect of creating a humiliating and degrading environment for [her].
‘The only explanation for [Mrs Shipp]… being totally ignored and written out of the organisation, is the fact that she was on maternity leave.
‘Mr West offered the role on the terms that he did to make it unattractive to [her] so that she would refuse it.’
Judge Grewal concluded: ‘There was then further maternity discrimination… when she received an email out of the blue that her role was at risk of redundancy and saw a restructure in which she had no role. That came as a complete shock to her.
‘There cannot be anything worse for a woman on maternity leave to find out she has lost her job because she was on maternity leave and then to have to spend her maternity leave fighting to get her job back. We concluded this was a serious case of maternity discrimination.’
Mrs Shipp was awarded £30,000 in compensation for ‘injury to feelings’ due to maternity and sex discrimination and a further £5,000 she was owed for an unrelated breach of contract matter.
A CitySprint spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Whilst we’re disappointed with the judgment handed down by the employment tribunal, the actions and behaviours described are clearly unacceptable and in no way reflect the current values or culture of our business.
‘Over the past 18 months the business has gone through a significant period of transformation, with a change of leadership team and major investment in our HR and people function.
‘We are confident that the right processes now exist to ensure CitySprint remains an inclusive and welcoming place for all to work.’
Source: Daily Mail UK