£5m Pregnancy Discrimination Claim Had “No Prospect of Success”, Says Tribunal; Greycoat Executive to Pay £225K in Costs

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£5m Pregnancy Discrimination Claim Had
Photo Credits - Ömürden Cengiz via Unsplash

A former senior executive who lost her pregnancy discrimination claim faces costs of £225,000 after an employment tribunal ruling. This follows its decision that her £5m claim against former employer Greycoat Real Estate LLP had “no reasonable prospect of success”. Below, we explore what happened and the tribunal’s extraordinary decision to make her pay back such a substantial amount.

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The Facts in the Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

Anna Prior Becomes Pregnant

In 2018, Anna Prior became a partner at Greycoat Real Estate LLP. On 16 March 2020, she informed her CEO, Nick Millican, that she was pregnant. Millican was happy for Prior and congratulated her.

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Prior had her baby on 1 October, around two and a half weeks premature. After her maternity leave began, her colleagues gave her celebratory gifts, and she thanked them for their support. 

Questions Raised About Her Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Over the coming months, and partially influenced by the pandemic’s financial struggles, some of her colleagues were keen to learn when she would be returning to work after maternity leave. However, in January 2021, Prior informed them that she would not return to work for at least six months. 

This disheartened some of her colleagues, who believed they needed all hands on deck due to their financial difficulties. Despite this, they respected her decision to take 12 months’ leave.

Greycoat Real Estate LLP Propose a Restructure

In early 2021, Prior expressed her desire to return to her previous role part-time. Around the same time, Greycoat Real Estate LLP considered external investment and proposed a restructuring to address their financial struggles. 

As part of this restructuring, Prior would need to move to a new team, resulting in lower remuneration. The CEO informed Prior of this, but she was disgruntled about the lesser payment she would receive. Following her reaction, the CEO said she could either return to her previous full-time role unaffected or take the new part-time proposal. While Prior decided, her partnership was put on hold, and she received no profits. 

Anna Prior Brings Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

Little progress was made concerning her future until 9 February 2022, when Prior’s husband informed the CEO that she had no intention of returning. He claimed this was due to the way the employer had treated her. They agreed on exit terms, but the board proposed an inferior offer to what had been provisionally agreed upon, which Prior and her husband rejected.

As a result, Greycoat Real Estate LLP treated the 9 February discussion as Prior’s retirement notice. However, Prior claimed she didn’t wish to retire and began ACAS early conciliation due to discrimination. Her employer responded through their solicitor that she must decide her future by 25 March. Once the deadline had passed, her employer began exit procedures for her, while Prior brought a pregnancy discrimination claim against her employer.

Prior Ordered to Pay £225k Costs 

After the proceedings, the employment tribunal reached its verdict concerning the pregnancy discrimination claim. According to the tribunal, Greycoat Real Estate LLP didn’t discriminate against Anna Prior while she was pregnant or on maternity leave. 

In fact, the tribunal didn’t believe they had discriminated against her at all. The employer had generously given her two options regarding her future upon returning to work after maternity leave. They had also attempted to accommodate her part-time working requests.

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The tribunal also noted that there were delays in Prior bringing her claims to the tribunal. She alleged that it was because she feared for her job if she did so. However, the tribunal felt it was because she was an intelligent woman and realised the prospect of succeeding was minuscule.

Senior exec ordered to pay employer £225k in legal costs. The employment tribunal ruled her pregnancy discrimination "claim had no reasonable prospect of success and it was unreasonable conduct to bring it".

In a separate hearing, the tribunal held the employer could recover £225,000 in costs from Prior. They reasoned the respondent had never behaved inappropriately, had taken a “generous approach”, and had simply acted on the position the claimant had caused. Although this ruling was uncommon, the tribunal believed that “the claim had no reasonable prospect of success, and it was unreasonable conduct to bring it”.

Get Help with Your Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

Despite Prior’s unsuccessful claim, others may have a legitimate case. If you believe you have faced discrimination because of your pregnancy and want expert advice, contact Redmans Solicitors now. They are employment law specialists and could advise you on the eligibility of your pregnancy discrimination claim after a quick consultation.

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