Abbey Gannapureddy, an ice cream shop worker was demoted, made redundant and had hurtful comments directed at her due to her pregnancy, the employment tribunal heard
A gelato shop worker has been awarded £40,000 in compensation after her boss asked “what am I paying you for” when she was unable to scoop ice cream due to being pregnant.
Abbey Gannapureddy, had been an assistant manager at Icestone Gelato Café in Chester, Cheshire, since September 2018.
During pregnancy, she struggled with tasks that involved bending over like getting cakes for customers, an employment tribunal l heard.
When she was six months pregnant a male colleague said if he had a wife in a similar condition he would “not allow her to work”- comments which prompted Mrs Gannapuredd to complain to her boss about.
Her boss, shop owner Faisal Mohammed, told her that if she was unable to do the work needed from her, she would “need to look for another job”, the Manchester court heard yesterday (March 22).
In May 2020 after going on maternity leave Mrs Gannapureddy was made redundant after the pandemic forced the shop to operate solely as a takeaway and delivery business on reduced hours.
Though other staff had been given the opportunity to discuss why they shouldn’t be made redundant, Mrs Gannapureddy had been unable to do so within her allotted time slots.
An employment tribunal has now ruled that she was discriminated against due to her pregnancy as she was not offered an alternative role.
She has now been awarded £38,677.27 in compensation.
The court also heard that though her job involved “relevant risks” such as “lifting boxes” and “bending and reaching to scoop” ice cream – no pregnancy risk assessment was carried out.
Mrs Gannapureddy has been promoted to assistant manager of the store just four months after joining.
And after the resignation of a colleague, Mrs Gannapureddy acted as the “de facto manager” of the store.
In April 2019, Mrs Gannapureddy fell pregnant and told company director Mr Mohammed her due date was in November that year.
He agreed to reduce her hours and removed the requirement for her to work late or do double shifts during her pregnancy.
The panel heard as she grew more heavily pregnant Mrs Gannapureddy felt “vulnerable” in her role – and she had said at five months pregnant that she “should not be lifting heavy tables” to mop the floor by herself.
It was agreed she would move her start time from 10:30am to midday, so the mopping had already been done by the time she got to work.
The court heard Adil Hussain, a nephew of one of the franchises’ owners, would “pull a face” when he saw her struggling to carry out these tasks.
Mrs Gannapureddy messaged her boss Mr Mohammed to complain about the comments, to which he reacted “angrily”, telling her he “could not make any more changes” due to her pregnancy.
The court heard he also smoked he was having to pay someone else to do parts of her job she “can’t or won’t be able to do” and asked, “what am I paying you for?”
He told her that if she was unable to do the work needed from her, she would “need to look for another job.”
In September, Mr Mohammed told Mrs Gannapureddy she was being demoted to a “regular team member” as business was “quiet” and he could no longer pay additional staff to do the tasks she was unable to do.
Mrs Gannapureddy raised a grievance with the company, saying there had been a “change in attitude” since the start of her pregnancy and that she was being discriminated against.
Mr Mohammed’s immediate response was to remove her from the staff WhatsApp group.
Mrs Gannapureddy left on maternity leave in early November 2019 and gave birth to a baby boy at the end of the month.
Employment Judge Rhodri McDonald ruled Mrs Gannapureddy had been treated unfavourably due to her pregnancy – which had led to her demotion, redundancy and hurtful comments from her colleagues.
Judge McDonald said: “Mrs Gannapureddy was treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy by being demoted and being subjected to discriminatory comments from colleagues.
“Adil’s comments explicitly related to her pregnancy and we find that they were made because of her pregnancy.
“We found that Adil’s remarks were acts of pregnancy discrimination.
“[Mr Mohammed]’s message to Mrs Gannapureddy, saying that if she was unable to do the work needed of her she would need to look for another job, was also an act of pregnancy discrimination.
“Although it does not explicitly refer to Mrs Gannapureddy’s pregnancy we find her pregnancy was an effective cause of the comment.
“The reason she was ‘unable to do the work needed’ was her pregnancy.”
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Chester Desserts – the company which ran the franchise – was ordered to pay her £38,677.27 in compensation – £18,000 of which for injury to feelings in relation to her pregnancy discrimination and victimization claims.
Further claims of unfair dismissal, unlawful deduction of wages in relation to her demotion were also successful.
However, Mrs Gannapureddy’s other claims of disability discrimination due to dyslexia and religious discrimination were dismissed.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.