It was alleged that there was a series of comments from one of the founders and also the CEO of YOO Limited in relation to pregnancy or being a mother towards the Claimant over a period of time. During a meeting with John Hitchcox (one of the founders of the company) Ms Humphryes was asked if she "really wanted to be a supermum", which she thought was sexist and belittling. Prior to her maternity leave, the Claimant had been working on a multi-million pound project in the Cotswolds but when the development received excellent reviews in the Homes and Gardens magazine her colleague was given all of the credit. Ms Humphryes complained to Chris Boulton, the CEO, who, she claimed, responded by saying that she was "exhibiting maternity paranoia". In the Employment Tribunal, Julie Humphryes claimed discrimination because of her sex and pregnancy or maternity, victimisation, constructive unfair and discriminatory dismissal.
The Tribunal heard evidence from all of those involved and ruled that even though Mr Hitchcox had good intentions when he made the "supermum" comment the remark was reasonably viewed as a detriment and amounted to unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy or maternity. The Judge also came to the conclusion that Ms Humphryes resigned in March 2013 for various reasons but that "the straw which broke the camel's back" was the comments from the CEO which essentially amounted to "sexist bullying". Aside from the maternity paranoia comments, Chris Boulton had been accused of treating the Claimant in a sexist and patronising way, telling her to "calm down". The Company said that Ms Humphryes had significant input to the Cotswolds development and had she not been on maternity leave she would have been recognised in the Homes and Gardens magazine review. The Tribunal ruled that she had a legitimate expectation not to be excluded from such just because she was on maternity leave.
The Tribunal found that Ms Humphryes had been constructively unfairly dismissed.
YOO Limited were ordered to pay £20,000 for injury to feelings, £72,533.40 for loss of future earnings as a result of Ms Humphryes not being in employment, and £176,533.87 for other losses before deductions. The tribunal did though reduce Ms Humphryes award by 10% as they found that she had contributed to her dismissal. It is not clear on what basis this contribution finding was made.
To read our Guidance on Unfair Dismissals click here.
To read our Guidance on Constructive Dismissal click here.