Tribunal rules that employee was unfairly dismissed for announcing pregnancy three weeks after starting new job

A pregnant office worker was unfairly dismissed after she announced that she was pregnant three weeks after starting a new job, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Eilise Walker was asked by her employer if she knew she was pregnant when she accepted the role, facing a “hostile, humiliating and offensive environment”.

Walker’s case against Arco Environmental was heard in East London, where Ron Heyfron, Managing Director at the firm, said that he “Probably did panic about the Human Resources (HR) issues” that he believed her pregnancy would cause.

Eilise Walker worked at the firm for one month, between November and December 2017, as an Office Manager.

In early December, she informed the company that she was pregnant. Following this, Walker said that Commercial and Financial Director Steve Rees, and his partner Adele Rees, who worked in purchasing, would not speak to her.

Heyfron said that he had asked Walker if she knew of her pregnancy when taking the job, admitting that in hindsight this was a mistake.

Walker submitted her resignation on 13 December 2017.

Judge Bernice Elgot, said: “The conduct of the meeting on the afternoon of 11 December 2017 and the failure of the respondent to respond in any way to Walker’s concerns amount to unfavourable treatment because of her pregnancy and harassment.

“We find that the effect of the events which took place at work over the very short period of three days, 11-13 December 2017, was to harass the claimant by violating her dignity and creating a hostile, humiliating and offensive environment for her.

“That harassment related to her protected characteristic of sex because, as is axiomatic, only women can be pregnant.”

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Donna Martin

Donna Martin

Partner at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Donna Martin is a Partner in the Employment team at Mackrell Turner Garrett’s London office. She advises both employers and employees on a full range of contentious and non-contentious issues. As an employment law expert, Donna has significant experience in drafting employment contracts and handbooks, advising on grievance and disciplinary procedures and preparatory work prior to tribunals, including advising on the advantages and disadvantages of settling cases.