A claim was issued against an organisation for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination based upon the Claimant’s perception that she had been dismissed due to her pregnancy. The actual reason for dismissal was the Claimant’s capability due to prolonged absence (unrelated to her pregnancy), unauthorised absence and failure to attend occupational health appointments to assess her health.
The Claimant had accrued just over one year’s continuous service, entitling her to bring the claim for unfair dismissal and in any event, an alleged pregnancy related dismissal would be automatically unfair if proven with no continuous service requirement. The employer would have had problems in demonstrating that it had acted reasonably in the circumstances (including its size and administrative resources) as it had not complied with the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (Acas Code)
It was therefore clear that there may be considerable risks in defending the claim at a hearing and the employer was advised of this accordingly. Negotiations ensued, which resulted in a cost effective settlement for the employer, which meant that their total liability was less than the potential legal costs which it would have incurred even if the claim had been unsuccessful at a final hearing.