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Sexual discrimination due to pregnancy,have placed formal greivance but not sure what happens now????

(5 Posts)
Louby1983 Tue 21-Jul-09 20:23:22

Has anyone else had to place a formal grievance with their employer or had to sue them or had dealings with 'no win no fee' solicitors????

I work as a carer for people with various levels of braindamage in their own homes. started feb th, did 4.5 months of 36 hour weeks on a contract that said i could work 'up to' 37.5 hours a week.

Was removed from client because he was getting funny with me being pregnant ( havent done anything wrong or had any disciplinary proceedures against me).

Got called into office, was told that they would have difficulty placing me with another client because of moving & handling' & clients who 'lash out'. Ive been told by my GP that moving & handling is a no no after 3 bleeds in early pregnancy (am now 22 weeks, due end of nov).

I called ACAS, they advised me to decline to sign the new contract on the grounds of sexual discrimination & to place a formal greivance on this basis & also that company should be putting me onto 'medical suspension' on full pay until they can find a suitable client to place me with.

Have got formal greivance hearing next mon & am quite frankly shitting it.
The company have dealt with me in such a way that they are making me feel like im in the wrong - even though i know im not & really they're just pissed at me cus im standing my ground.
ive consulted a solicitor who says i defo have a case & are offering to do it no win no fee, covering all costs if we split win 50-50.
Because i get paid 2 months in hand, i dont yet qualify for 'legal aid' even tho ive not actually had any work since mid june.

Work have only inroduced me to one client in 4 1/2 weeks- who wasnt suitable & they knew it. he needed lifting out of bed, was prone to lashing out etc & was generally very unstable - so i had to decline him.
Ive rang benefits & cant claim until after greivance hearing & am totally hating being in limbo!!!! Am so bloody frustrated!

Ive got bills to pay, ive lost my childminder as a result of not being able to work so even if work do call me in, im bloody well stuffed!
Am totally in the modd to sue their asses but have reservations about no win no fee solicitor.
All advice welcome!!!!!
Thanks in advance peeps!
xxx

Louby1983 Tue 21-Jul-09 20:26:39

sOZ, JUST THOUGHT I BETTER ADD, THEY TRIED TO CHANGE MY CONTRACT BY PUTTING ME ONTO A 'ZERO HOURS' CONTRACT WHEN THEY CALLED ME INTO THE OFFICE. I know that this is a breach of contract on their part & not something that they are supposed to do (government website advised on this) & that is why i refused to sign new contract, so am still on old contract.
Am also on a 6 month trial period that ends 4th Aug but they can extend the trial period if they need to rather than making me a 'fully blown' employee.

twinklytoes Tue 21-Jul-09 21:42:26

i don't understand all the legalities surrounding this and won't pretend to.

but wanted to say that I too am in care and work with very vulnerable and potentially violent clients. within our organisation you would have been put onto paperwork / office based duties whilst the more violent clients were around. It makes for a very boring 8/9mths but at least you are safe. so wanted to let you know that you are right.

where's the risk assessment? this should have been completed once you informed them and should be regularly reviewed and updated as pregnancy progresses.

have you done enough to claim SMP through the organisation or are you going to have to claim maternity allowance? maybe if its the latter then this maybe a deciding point as to how you progress.

before this grievance meeting, make sure you have the maternity policy and go through it with a fine tooth comb, note where they have not achieved and ask why. certainly the risk assessment is key here. also if you know of others that have been treated differently during their pregnancies ask if you can raise what happened to them (only if you want your colleagues to be aware). Can you take someone with you? make sure you do if you can. also remember to ask for regular breaks, take a notebook and make notes. just thought, also make sure you have a copy of the grievance policy and keep records of what happens where and ensure this meets policy. (sorry this is what I would do, probably not qualified to tell you this is the right way. i tend to take lead from HR when I'm the hearing manager in such events)

good luck. well done for challenging too. not sure I would have done so if in same boat. many people probably walk away.

Kafka Wed 22-Jul-09 08:43:11

Why not contact your local CAB, Law Centre, The Equality and Human Rights Commission or Working Families who have a freephone helpline. All of these you can google and provide free advice. It sounds like even though you are not, entitled to free help under legal aid that you soon will be and in the meantime you may be able to get some free advice.
Generally your deadine for taking lodging a claim in the employment tribunal will be three months less a day from the act of discrimination.

OnceWasSquiffy Wed 22-Jul-09 11:14:57

Four things:-

1) Employers have an obligation to ensure your safety, and removing you from potential harm is a legal requirement and they have to suspend you on full pay if they cannot find alternative work. HERE is a good summary.

2) For employees who have served less than 2 years, you can generally be dismissed/made redundant at any point for any reason, so long as it is not discrimination (probation period or not); in this case there are clear grounds that the reason for your not beign given work is on the grounds of being PG so it IS discrimination. So the length of service is not relavent for you.

3) You will potentially have a problem with a clain because your contract does not give you a clear contractual number of hours, and your company will use this as a defence in any claim that you might make. You will need to show that you consistently worked 36 hours, and that it was the norm for people in your role to do 36 hours. The tribunal will need to be able to assess a normal salary for someone like you and will use these as examples on which to caluclate your losses.

4) I would persoanlyl run a mile (and then some) from a no win-no fee solicitor. Your case is not very complicated and you can do most of the groundwork without a solicitor. And regardless of this, if it goes to a tribunal you need an employee specialist on your side, not a generalist. If your no-fee chap claims to be an employee specialist then I would be askign him for a list of ET cases that he has presided over in order to prove it. And I would be astounded if he were able to give you one (there is no confidentiality breach in providing this info - ET cases are in the public domain). Instead I would check your home insurance to see if you are covered with regard to legal representation (you might be amazed) - phone your insurers and ask if you are in doubt. Otherwise I would speak to an employment lawyer after your grievance hearing (most good large lawyers provide first hour free in cases like these), then I would do any follow-up yourself, and would hire a lawyer only as and when needed to explain stuff or attend hearings with you.

FWIW I think at the grievance hearign they will say that they are obliged to remove you from work, btu that in the terms of the contract you have they are not obliged to pay you anything because you do not have set hours. They may also say that you are self employed and not an employee (whether you are or not depends on the terms of your cotnract and the actual role you do - whether you can decline work/choose your own hours etc are a factor in this). Teh grievance hearing is for them to consider and explain their position. You do not really have to contribute your own comments/views other than to state your case and expand on it. If they ask you to make decisions there and then you can tell them you will consider their request and come back to them within 7 days - something like that. So long as you are reasonable, listen to them and don't let yourself be pressurised into agreeing stuff you are not happy with, then you will have nothing to fear.

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