Woman Awarded £250,000 for Pregnancy Discrimination at Work


Direct discrimination takes place when someone is treated unfavourably because of a protected characteristic. Unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy is unlawful. Being on the receiving end of pregnancy discrimination is not only stressful and upsetting, it also interferes with your ability to do your job.

Sexual Discrimination in the Workplace

It was recently reported in national newspapers that Julie Humphryes, an architect on a salary of £105,000 a year, was awarded £250,000 by a Tribunal after suffering sexist bullying by her employer who accused her of exhibiting 'maternity paranoia'.

The Discrimination

The Employment Tribunal found that Ms Humphryes had experienced "patronising and sexist" comments at work and had been treated unfavourably due to her pregnancy.

Her employer failed to recognise her work on a large residential development, whilst giving credit to her male colleagues. When Ms Humphryes raised her concerns, she was accused of "exhibiting maternity paranoia."

She also experienced unfavourable treatment during meetings when she was asked if she, "really wanted to be a supermum" by her colleagues who had commented on how she had taken her first child with her when she travelled away with work.

The Reality For Many

Ms Humphryes' experience is, sadly, not an isolated one, but the number of working women pursuing discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal has significantly declined.

Simpson Millar explains:

"This is undoubtedly an excellent result for Ms Humphryes but for many ordinary working women, access to justice is just too costly."

"The more fundamental problem for working women who have been subjected to discrimination lies in getting their claims past the Employment Tribunal fees regime. The current fees structure is a stumbling block for those with legitimate discrimination claims who simply cannot afford the fees. Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful regardless of a woman's ability to pay. Those with dependents who are more likely to be working part time, on zero hours contracts and in receipt of low wages, are simply being priced out of justice."

"Hopefully the recently announced Government review of Tribunal fees will result in positive changes to the law broadening access to Employment Tribunals for many more working women who, like Ms Humphreys, continue to experience detrimental treatment at work because of pregnancy."

Getting Help

If you've been the victim of discrimination, bullying or harassment in the workplace, it is important to get the right help and support. Our solicitors specialise in discrimination claims, and can provide you with the expert legal advice you need.

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