A new mum who had worked at Primark for eight years has won an employment tribunal appeal after she quit her job upon returning from maternity leave due to a disagreement
Image: Manchester Evening News)
A Primark employee who quit her job after being told she must make herself available to work a weekly late shift has accused the retailer of sexism.
The woman, who worked as a department manager, cited indirect sex discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal at a tribunal, where she was initially unsuccessful.
But she has now won her appeal – with a judge ordering that her case is heard again after ruling the original tribunal “failed to properly address” her complaint, noted the Manchester Evening News.
The new mum, who worked in Bury, Manchester, applied for her contracted hours to be changed as she prepared to return to work in November 2019 following maternity leave.
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The store manager told the tribunal that he was set to accommodate the mum’s request not to work late shifts on other days, but couldn’t do so on Thursdays.
He said that she wouldn’t have to work every Thursday late shift – which ran between 10.30am and 8.30pm – but required her to guarantee her availability to work if “absolutely necessary and there was no alternative cover”.
But the woman was unavailable to do so – as she had sole responsibility for her child and limited support from her mother.
The refusal from Primark led to the woman resigning from her position as store manager.
In her claim against the fashion retailer, she argued the contractual requirement for department managers to guarantee availability “put women at a particular disadvantage compared to men.”
Although her case was initially dismissed, her appeal was upheld by the president of the employment appeal tribunal, Mrs Justice Eady.
She ruled that in assessing the woman’s case, the court had compared the discriminatory impact on her to two male colleagues to whom Primark “had not applied the same degree of compulsion, namely the requirement that they guarantee their availability for the late shifts in question. “
The judge added that there was “no obvious logic” to the pool selected, and therefore the tribunal’s conclusions “must be set aside in their entirety”.
The case will now return to the original court, which must consider the mum’s claims of indirect discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal.
A Primark spokesperson said: “We are aware of the case in question. Equality and fairness are core values we hold dear at Primark and are the foundation of how we work to provide supportive and inclusive workplaces for every employee.”
If you think you are experiencing pregnancy or maternity discrimination, you can contact the free Pregnant then Screwed helpline on 0161 222 9879.