Charity told to pay more than £10,000 in damages to pregnant employee it discriminated against

An employment tribunal found The Salvation Army did not offer a position to the claimant either because of pregnancy or because she was about to go on maternity leave

The Salvation Army has been told to pay out more than £10,000 in damages after an employment tribunal ruled it had discriminated against a pregnant employee. 

The case was brought by a claimant named only as K Voy, who alleged she was treated unfairly because of her pregnancy and/or maternity, which resulted in her not being properly considered for a full-time position. 

Tribunal documents, published last week, show that Voy started working as the weekend concierge at Swan Lodge, a hostel in Sunderland run by the Christian church and charity, in August 2018.

She left that position in March 2019 before picking up work as a relief worker in July 2019.

Voy said she was working up to five shifts a week at the time and covering weekday concierge shifts while a colleague was acting up as an assistant support worker before interviews for that role took place. 

During the interview process, Voy learned that the post had been offered to one colleague who turned it down, and a second in advance of the interview process.

Colleagues had also told Voy that one candidate had been given advance information about what would be asked in the interview.

Voy told the tribunal, which was held in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in November, that this had left her feeling humiliated. 

The tribunal ruled that Voy was not offered the full-time post either because of her pregnancy or because she was about to go on maternity leave.

In his decision, Employment Judge O’Dempsey, said: “In both these cases we find that the respondent treated the claimant unfavourably and that this was related to maternity. 

“Although in the oral reasons we distinguished between pregnancy and maternity leave, for reasons stated above, on reflection we consider this distinction to be one without substance in that the true reason for the treatment in this case was pregnancy/maternity.”

Voy was awarded £10,000 and more than £1,800 for loss of earnings. 

O’Dempsey added: “We infer from the evidence, as we must, that as the explanation for the treatment we have found could be an unlawful act under the Equality Act 2010, we must find that the respondent did commit such an act.”

A Salvation Army spokesperson said: “The Salvation Army prides itself on being an equal opportunities employer and we have robust policies in place to ensure recruitment is fair and transparent.

"This is a unique case and while we are disappointed by the outcome we will take this opportunity to reflect and learn from it.”

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