A personal care assistant was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against after being called “useless” when she revealed she was pregnant, a tribunal has ruled.
Joanne Stronach Head of Employment and HR reports on this recent case.
The case involved care assistant Sandy Croly who was employed by Kelly Ann Smith, who is paralysed from the neck down.
Smith lived with her two children, aged nine and eleven, and employed four other care assistants in addition to Croly.
Croly was the only black carer. Her duties included looking after Smith’s children as well as administering medication and cream and helping her dress and use the toilet.
Croly had lost a daughter after a previous pregnancy had resulted in premature birth.
She suffered from PTSD and anxiety afterwards but looking after Smith’s children helped with her mourning process.
She said the other four carers made her feel unwelcome, giving her “dirty looks” and leaving her out of WhatsApp group chats and in-person conversations. She was also falsely accused of using cannabis.
Croly told Smith that she was pregnant and that her pregnancy was considered high risk after what she had gone through last time.
She didn’t want to do anything to put her unborn child at risk; this meant that she was unable to lift Smith onto her bed.
Smith refused to use a hoist that she had to help her get into bed and told Croly that she was “useless” and that there was no point in her being there.
Croly then did lift Smith into bed but was injured and was signed off sick for eight weeks by her GP.
Smith refused the doctor’s note, stopped paying Croly and dismissed her.
Croly brought a claim of discrimination on grounds of race and pregnancy as well as unfair dismissal. The Employment Tribunal ruled in her favour.
Judge Ayre said: “The discrimination lasted for a number of weeks and resulted in the claimant (Croly) losing her job.
“It had a substantial impact on the claimant, causing her to lose her confidence, fear that she was going to lose her home and have to resort to foodbanks and receiving food from her grandmother. She had not worked as a carer since.”
Croly was awarded £24,432 to cover injury to feelings, unfair dismissal and unpaid wages and holiday pay.