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Over £386,500 Work Discrimination Compensation for Architect

18 June 2015

Slater and Gordon Employment Lawyer secured over £386,500 in damages for sex discrimination, maternity discrimination and constructive dismissal for her client Julie Humphryes.

Slater and Gordon Solicitor: An Employment Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

What happened: Ms Humphryes was employed by John Hitchcox as a Creative Director at Yoo Ltd in 2004. A high-flying architect, she was formerly employed by Virgin Atlantic and has a number of prestigious awards and international hotels to her name.

Prior to taking maternity leave in 2011, Ms Humphryes enjoyed an equal leadership role to a male colleague. In 2012, whilst on maternity leave, the business was restructured which saw Ms Humphryes reporting to her former peer, and receiving less salary and bonus than him. In effect, she had been demoted.

In addition, Ms Humphryes’ name and photograph were stripped from all the illustrious projects that she had worked on prior to her maternity leave. She wasn’t mentioned in any articles and magazines that featured her work, whereas her male colleague was.

After her maternity leave, Ms Humphryes sought to address these issues with her employer and agree her return to work date. The company CEO would not engage on an informal basis so Ms Humphryes brought a grievance, after which she suffered numerous meetings where she was discriminated against and victimised.

Regarding her demotion, Ms Humphryes was described by the CEO as suffering from "maternity paranoia" and was accused by another senior company member of "trying to be a Supermum". Both men were condescending and aggressive towards Ms Humphryes in meetings, which led her to realise that they could not work together.

Ms Humphryes’ health rapidly deteriorated and she resigned in May 2013.

How we helped: The Slater and Gordon Lawyer prepared the case that was heard at the Employment Tribunal from 3 – 5 May 2015. This included preparing all documentation, taking witness evidence and instructing an expert consultant psychiatrist who gave evidence as to the impact on Ms Humphryes of the cumulative stresses of both having been discriminated against and also losing her job.

Outcome: The Tribunal ruled that Ms Humphryes suffered sex discrimination and maternity discrimination. They also ruled that her constructive dismissal was discriminatory because of how she was treated in meetings prior to her resignation.

Ms Humphryes was awarded all of the loss that flowed from her dismissal, including past loss of earnings, future loss of earnings until April 2017 and a payment for injury to her feelings.

An argument by Yoo Ltd that Ms Humphryes would have got sick anyway was rejected. Ms Humphryes recovered all her loss, including £50,000 that she had spent on keeping her hand in the industry and maintaining her professional profile.

Slater and Gordon's Lawyer, together with accountants, prepared meticulous evidence demonstrating that those expenses were properly incurred in seeking to mitigate her loss going forward. The Tribunal accepted that evidence and compensated Ms Humphryes for the money she had spent despite the fact she did not have a role and was unable to work.

The CEO was found to be jointly and severally (with Yoo Ltd) liable for the full value of the award and both the CEO and the other senior company member were found to be liable for the injury to Ms Humphryes' feelings.

The Employment Lawyer commented: ”I hope the outcome of the case will be a strong deterrent to employers and senior managers who take condescending and paternalistic attitudes towards women returning from maternity leave. We are delighted with this result for our client.”

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