An employment tribunal has ruled that a law firm made a male employee redundant because it feared a sex discrimination claim if it dismissed his pregnant co-worker. As a result, it awarded the man £123,000 in damages for unfair redundancy / dismissal and sex discrimination.
The law firm, Eversheds, has appealed the ruling.
According to John De Belin, both he and his pregnant co-worker Angela Reinholz faced redundancy from Eversheds’ Leeds office. The firm undertook an assessment of both employees’ abilities using a points system.
De Belin lost by a half a point and the Eversheds made him redundant in February 2009. Mr De Belin learned, however, that assessors ‘unfairly inflated’ Ms Reinholz’s test score on one of the criteria – securing ‘lock-up’ payments – because she was on maternity leave during the assessment period.
Tribunal judge Jeremy Shulman said: “We do not find that the Sex Discrimination Act was intended to protect a woman on maternity leave in a redundancy scoring exercise where we find that she received an unfairly inflated score, when all other scores were actual, the notional score being designed to defeat a tribunal case by Ms Reinholz.”
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