Court rules woman was unfairly dismissed after successful IVF treatment

A Birmingham employment tribunal has ruled an administration assistant who underwent successful fertility treatment was discriminated against after telling her bosses she was pregnant

The tribunal heard Gita Karavadra had taken time off from her job at Smethwick-based BJ Cheese Packaging but was then not allowed to return to work once she told her employers the treatment was successful.

The tribunal panel unanimously agreed that Gita had not been considered for dismissal before she told them of her pregnancy and ruled that it was the main reason for her termination of employment.

In February she had told her boss, N Jhinjer, that she planned to start fertility treatment at some point in the future after suffering a miscarriage.

Gita began fertility treatment at the end of May 2018 and asked her bosses for a month’s annual leave, which he agreed to.

She attended a number of fertility clinic appointments during that month and on June 24 she requested another month’s leave for egg collection, which took place on June 27.

Gita discovered she was pregnant on July 13 but didn’t tell anyone at the time. She had the usual tests and on July 24 requested two more weeks off, which her bosses said was ‘no problem’.

On August 8 she messaged Mr Jhinjer to say she would like to return to work on August 13, but did not receive a response

Mr Jhinjer telephoned Gita on August 10 and in the resulting conversation, he said that her holiday had resulted in staff shortages and he’d had to cancel his holiday. Gita told him she was pregnant. He is believed to have told her he had not employed anyone who was pregnant and did not know how to handle the situation.

Gita told him she wanted to return to work and he said he would get back to her.

When she did not hear anything she went into the office on August 22 to talk to another director, Bob Jhinjer, who told her she could ‘not return to work’.

The tribunal took this as effective dismissal but he argued that she failed to return to work after a month’s holiday and that he would not have agreed to the further holiday requests.

Gita was awarded a total of £21,081.14 for loss of earnings and wages, maternity pay, loss of statutory rights and injury to feelings.

To read the full judgement, click here.

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