Mum wins £180k after boss refuses to let her leave early to pick daughter up from nursery

7 September 2021, 16:57

Alice Thompson asked to go part time so she could pick up her daughter from nursery school
Alice Thompson asked to go part time so she could pick up her daughter from nursery school. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

A woman who was not allowed to work a four-day week and leave early in order to pick up her daughter from school has won her claim of sex discrimination.

Sales manager Alice Thompson was awarded nearly £185,000 when a tribunal found she was "disadvantaged" because her employer, estate agent Manors, refused to let her be flexible with her hours.

Mrs Thompson wanted to work four-day weeks and finish an hour early at 5pm in order to collect her daughter from nursery school.

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But company director Paul Sellar said the business could not afford for her to go part time and turned down the request.

Mr Sellar also cited the "detrimental effect" on meeting customer demand and the logistical difficulties in reorganising work among existing staff.

Mrs Thompson then took the London-based agency to an employment tribunal, claiming sex discrimination.

Mrs Thompson began working at Manors on £120,000 a year in 2016, and the hearing was told she was "successful" and "well thought of".

She announced her pregnancy in 2018.

Mrs Thompson claimed Mr Sellar expressed outrage that she was pregnant and told another colleague he was "warned about employing a married woman of her age", something Mr Sellar denied.

The panel also heard that Mrs Thompson was made to feel like she was leaving when she went on maternity leave, and was told to return her office keys and work phone.

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When Mrs Thompson went back into the office to "clear the air" with Mr Sellar, the panel heard he told her she was emotional because she was pregnant.

After her request for different hours was denied Mrs Thompson resigned in December 2019, and has since struggled to find a job, the panel heard.

The tribunal concluded that she was placed at a disadvantage due to the nursery's opening hours and Mrs Thompson's requirement to work until 6pm.

It said: "Here, Mrs Thompson resented that flexible working appeared not to be considered properly (as in our finding it was not), and felt that this was an injustice because of her sex, which it was."

However, the tribunal rejected Mrs Thompson's other claims, including that of harassment due to comments allegedly made by Mr Sellar.

Mrs Thompson, who said she brought the claim so her daughter did not experience what she had, was awarded a total of £184,961.32 for a loss of earnings, pension contributions, injury to feelings and interest.