Firm wrong to make mum-to-be redundant
A woman who believed she was made redundant because she was pregnant has won a sex discrimination claim against her bosses.
Ruth Suddes was among five women made redundant from Aztec West based Carlson Marketing Group after a restructuring programme.
Miss Suddes, of Newbridge Road, St Anne’s took the firm to an employment tribunal, claiming that she was a victim of sex discrimination when her position was made redundant and she missed out on a new role.
She was about five months pregnant at the time.
An equal number of men and women were made redundant at the same time.
But of the five women made redundant, including Miss Suddes, one had just returned from maternity leave, and one was on maternity leave, having already given birth.
An industrial tribunal chaired by Olga Harper found in her favour on counts of unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal.
Miss Suddes told the tribunal she had applied for a new job as a senior designer – a position she claims was similar to the work she was carrying out as a creative manager – but was turned down for the job in favour of colleague Steve Hallett.
Miss Suddes believe that as the most experienced person at working with digital media, she should have been given the job ahead of Mr Hallett, who she claimed only worked with digital media 50 per cent of the time.
At the company was restructuring, her own position was made redundant.
During cross-examination Miss Suddes said: “At the time elf my redundancy I was doing the job of a senior designer: “On paper they were different roles, but the creative manager role had been undermined, so the extra responsibilities had become less and less.”
Miss Suddes believed that the company laid her off because they did not want to pay for temporary cover while she was on maternity leave.
The company claimed that the interview and redundancy processes were fair and objective, and that applicants were considered purely based on their merit.
Sarah Emberton representing Carlson Marketing, said: “The criteria considered a number of different areas, not just experience”.
“The company feel the procedure was fair and that Miss Suddes did have good opportunity to feed back about the decisions that had been made.”
Miss Suddes, who had worked for the company since 1997, gave birth to a baby daughter last November. She is still unemployed but is looking for a new job.
Summing up, Oliver Isaacs, counsel for Miss Suddes, said: “The company has not shown that the reason for the treatment was not related to sex”.
On hearing the verdict Miss Suddes burst into tears. She said: “This result is fantastic, it is absolutely amazing.”
“The money doesn’t matter to me, it is just satisfying that after all this they believed in me.”
“Going through a tribunal is a very harrowing experience, especially when you have a six month old child.”
“I am just glad the whole experience is over.”
The tribunal will now consider how much compensation Miss Suddes is due and make an announcement at a later date.
“Bristol Evening Post”: 27.5.05