Alice Thompson, who worked as sales manager for Manors estate agency, based in Marylebone, requested, after returning from maternity leave, that her boss permit her to work for four days a week and finish at 5pm, rather than 6pm, when nurseries usually close.
But company director Paul Sellar rejected her request. He claimed that the business could not afford for her to go part-time.
His decision forced Thompson to quit her job. But she did not go quietly.
Thompson, who earned £120,000 a year, took Manors to an employment tribunal claiming sex discrimination.
Employment judge Sarah Jane Goodman found she had been discriminated against by the denial of her request, calling it an ‘injustice because of her sex’.
The panel found that making her work until 6pm – when nurseries ordinarily close – was unfair.
Having won her case, she has been awarded £184,961.32 as compensation – the panel found that making her work until 6pm – when nurseries ordinarily close – was unfair.
The hearing was told that Thomson was ‘well thought of’ at work, but tensions with Sellar started after she revealed her pregnancy in Spring 2018.
At a party celebrating the news that summer, she claims she heard him tell a colleague, “I thought, for f***’s sake, why is she pregnant when we are doing so well? I was warned about employing a married woman of her age.”
Thompson also accused the company of ‘excluding’ her when staff were taken on a trip to New York and organised a booze-fuelled boat trip which she had to sit out.
Sellar described her as ‘ungrateful’ after complaining about of feeling ‘isolated’ as the trip cost him £25,000, the tribunal heard.
Thompson was also unhappy that she was told to hand in her work phone and office keys after going on maternity leave. But her feelings were dismissed by her bosses who, she claims, told her that was emotional due to her pregnancy.
Thompson, whose contract had no details on maternity leave, launched a grievance referring to her request to work flexibly and finally quit in December 2019.
Although the employment judge found Thompson had been discriminated against by the denial of her request, calling it an ‘injustice because of her sex’, she rejected other claims brought by the estate agent in relation to the alleged comments by Sellar.
The panel said: ‘It is plausible that this was said as an unguarded remark after an evening of eating and drinking.
‘It was not said to (her) face and possibly not in her hearing. In our finding, it was not harassment. If not said to her face, that was not its purpose; as an isolated remark, it lacked the strength to be intimidating or hostile.’