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20 March 2018

Dismissal of a pregnant employee: what the employer knows, matters

The EAT has found that in claims for unfair dismissal by reason of pregnancy and pregnancy discrimination, the employer must know or believe the employee was pregnant when it took the decision to dismiss. 

In this case, the Employment Tribunal had found that the employer made its’ decision to dismiss before the employee notified it of her pregnancy even though they did not communicate the decision to dismiss until after she had notified them.  The Tribunal had originally gone on to find that when the employer discovered the employee was pregnant, they should have considered whether the reasons they were dismissing her were pregnancy related and revisited the reason to dismiss.

The EAT overturned the tribunal and made clear that in order for the decision to be because of the pregnancy, the employer must know of it.  Nothing in the legislation creates a liability on an employer if it has treated a pregnant employee unfavourably because of something arising from her pregnancy (i.e. something akin to a disability discrimination claim) when there is no knowledge of the pregnancy (Really Easy Car Credit Ltd v Thompson).