Tribunal rules employee referred to as 'baby farmer' was unfairly dismissed

An employee at logistics firm Pall-Ex who was called a “baby farmer” by her finance director following her return to work from maternity leave was unfairly dismissed, a Leister employment tribunal found.

Miss L Hayman faced direct sex discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics on specific occasions in her work. The tribunal heard how Ms Hayman was shouted at and dealt with “bullying behaviour” from her line manager, Mr Tancock, with one incident leaving Ms Hayman in tears in the work toilets.

However, a number of separate sexual discrimination claims by Ms Hayman were dismissed by the tribunal because they were made out of time, dating back to 2011.

In November 2013, the claimant was asked for an update on the finances relating to a specific client when she was allegedly told by her finance director, David Gannon that “nothing has happened since you’ve been busy being a baby farmer.”

The judges concluded the “baby farmer” comment constituted unfavourable treatment, and that the bullying behaviour Ms Hayman had faced were a breach of implied terms of trust and confidence in the claimant’s contract.

On her return to work, Ms Hayman explained to the tribunal that she began noticing her manager making references to her parental duties, sending an email in March 2017 saying: “Can you tell me when you get a moment in between nappy changing?”

Alongside a number of other incidents - including Tancock shouting at Ms Hayman, being harassed with phone calls while sick, and the head of sales and Tancock making jokes at the expense of Ms Hayman - the judges ruled the behaviour “clearly constitutes conduct which is calculated or likely to damage or destroy trust and confidence”.

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