05:58PM, Thursday 02 July 2020
A former family support worker has been awarded thousands of pounds after she was ‘directly discriminated’ against by Slough Children’s Services Trust (SCST) after suffering a miscarriage.
Suman Sharma was awarded £15,844 in financial losses and injury to feelings following an employment tribunal heard in Reading from March 17 to March 19.
A decision notice published last week said Mrs Sharma was left ‘shocked, sad, upset and tearful’ at the way she was treated while on sick leave from January 29, 2018 to April 3, 2018, when she suffered an ectopic pregnancy and had to undergo surgery.
When she returned to work, on reduced hours due to the pain caused by the miscarriage and resulting surgery, her line manager, named only in the report as Mr Makoni, sent an ‘abrupt’ email asking her to be on duty all day, and showed ‘no empathy or sympathy’ for the claimant.
Upon her return to work she was not assigned any new cases and was told none were available, despite new cases being given to her colleague, the report said.
Instead she was allocated full time to the duty family support worker, a job which staff normally do on rotation once a week.
Mrs Sharma felt she was treated differently by Mr Makoni after she returned. The report said he would look over her shoulder at her screen while she was working, and the tribunal felt his behaviour while she was on leave suggested he did not trust what she said about her pregnancy-related absence.
The judges also said it was likely Mr Makoni did not assign Mrs Sharma new cases because ‘he had formed the view that she would be dismissed at her next probationary review.’
Mrs Sharma was dismissed with immediate effect on April 27 following a two-day probationary review. She was provided with no notes or minutes from the meeting.
The tribunal concluded that Mrs Sharma was directly discriminated against by SCST because of pregnancy and sex. Her complaint of harassment relating to sex also succeeded.
Her other allegations of direct discrimination and harassment were dismissed. Her complaints of victimisation and automatic unfair dismissal because of protected disclosures also failed.
A spokesman for SCST said: “The Trust takes all allegations of discrimination seriously and is committed to an inclusive workplace.
“There were a wide range of claims made against the Trust, most of which were not upheld, nevertheless we fully accept there were some areas where we fell short of the high standards we set ourselves.
“The events leading to this tribunal occurred over two years ago and we have already learnt from them and improved our procedures and practice as a result.”
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