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02nd Dec 2021

Woman wins over €350,000 after she was fired for being pregnant

Ellen Fitzpatrick

She overheard the conversation.

A GP practice manager has been awarded over €350,000 after she was fired from her role when she told her workplace she was pregnant.

Naomi Hefford discovered that her work colleagues were secretly creating a plan to have her sacked and figuring out what “excuse” they could get away with only three days after announcing her pregnancy.

Naomi has since been given an extra £20,000 over a missed bonus on top of the £294,000 she won in a discrimination claim.

An employment tribunal heard that the GPs in her clinic had launched a misleading misconduct investigation on Naomi and sacked her via email while she was in hospital giving birth to her daughter.

Naomi sued the doctors for pregnancy discrimination and was awarded the six figure lump sum earlier this year.

It is only now that she was won the additional £20,000 after she argued to a panel that she was entitled to a much greater payout as she asked them to take into account a higher weekly pay and a bonus she would have gotten had she not been sacked.

A hearing in East London heard that the new mother began working at Queensway Surgery, Southend, Essex, in November 2017 after being interviewed by Dr Michael Jack, Dr Ajith Sivaprasad, Dr Jamil Sorouji, Dr Olanike Aderonmu and Dr Sajid Azeem.

During the application for the role, Naomi claimed she was asked if she had children or if she was planning on having them and while Dr Jack denied this, the tribunal concluded that it was “in his mind.”

It was a year later that she announced her pregnancy and was deemed “high risk”, and three days later she was left in tears when she overheard Dr Sivaprasad, Dr Azeem and Dr Aderonmu saying they needed to “focus on sacking her” and referred to her as a “mother hen”.

After hearing a female voice quizzing the doctors on what their excuse for sacking her would be, Naomi left out of fear of being heard or seen listening.

She later realised that the conversation had been accidentally voice recorded, as it is something Naomi typically does for meetings to keep minutes in check.

After bringing it to HR and being dismissed, she was fired for misconduct but it was overturned by the tribunal, stating it was her pregnancy that led to her termination.