A solicitor who was refused a permanent job at the end of her training contract after becoming pregnant has successfully sued a City law firm for discrimination, reported The Daily Telegraph.
Trainee solicitor Katie Tantum, who is 33, sued law firm Travers Smith for discrimination after she was refused a full-time job at the end of her two-year ‘training contract’ after becoming pregnant.
Solicitors must complete their ‘Legal Practice Course’ at Law School before taking on a two-year training post in industry to complete their qualification. At the end of this period many stay on at their training firm, or move on elsewhere for their first full-time permanent role.
Ms Tantum was at the end of her two-year training position and was applying for a full-time role at Travers Smith. She was an outstanding performer and believed she would qualify for a full-time role.
However, she then fell pregnant and, whilst she described her bosses and seniors being ‘very supportive’ initially, she said it quickly became apparent that they were ‘not bothered’ with her any more.
Ms Tantum was subsequently not offered a role at the end of her training contract and decided to sue her former employer for discrimination.
At employment tribunal her lawyers made it clear that her performance should have merited a full-time job offer and that the only explanation that they could see for her not being offered a job was the fact that she was heavily pregnant.
After informing her bosses of her news in March 2012, she said the atmosphere towards her changed. She described being criticised by her line manager on one occasion for ‘leaving early’, when she had in fact worked through the night and was heading out of the office at 6:30am.
The tribunal agreed with her and ruled against Travers Smith, who must now pay her significant damages. The average payout in such cases is more than £13,000, but given her significant salary and expected earnings the award is likely to be far higher.
Ms Tantum’s solicitor, David Mackay, commended his client’s courage for bringing the case.
“It takes courage and tremendous resilience to stand up to your employer, even more so when that employer is a leading City law firm and you are only just embarking on your legal career,” he said.
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