Morrisons Pay £60k for Indirect Sex Discrimination

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Morrisons Indirect Sex Discrimination
LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Shereen Murphy
Legally reviewed by: LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Shereen Murphy Updated: In: Employment

In a recent legal battle, Morrisons has been informed they have to pay £60,000 to a mother for indirect sex discrimination.

Donna Patterson returned from maternity leave to her work after the birth of her second child. On her return to work, Morrisons asked her to fulfil the responsibilities of a full-time job. However, Ms Patterson was only being contracted to work part-time hours.

As a result, Ms Patterson represented herself at the employment tribunal and won her case after cross-examining eight witnesses.

Bringing Light to Indirect Sex Discrimination

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Ms Patterson states that she hopes her case helps others in similar situations.

What Was Ms Patterson’s Indirect Sex Discrimination Case?

Ms Patterson worked as a buyer for Morrison’s online business. She stated that she had been offered a new role in the business. However, when she informed her bosses that she was pregnant the job “disappeared.”

Furthermore, while on maternity leave, Morrisons reduced her department. Ms Patterson informed that when she returned from maternity leave, she was asked to take on a full-time role. This was in despite of her being a part-time member of staff.

Additionally, Ms Patterson was told she could do the job in her allotted hours and was told to. She was told to “prioritise things a bit better and get your head in the right place and get your mindset right”.

As a result, Ms Patterson said “I just felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall, that nobody was listening to me.”

Morrisons Failed Discrimination Grievance Procedure

Ms Patterson was “called out” for not finishing her jobs on time. As a result, she filed a grievance and went through the company’s internal process. She stated that the process “just totally failed me.”

After experiencing the failure of Morrisons’ grievance procedure to aid her discrimination case, Ms Patterson felt like she had no other option other than to resign.

Ms Patterson states that “what I wanted was to demonstrate to Morrisons what had happened, and what had gone wrong, and how I had been failed.”

With the help of a professional, Ms Patterson was helped to understand what would be expected in the tribunal. This resulted in the finding of eight witnesses to cross-examine the case, some of whom she had worked with.

“There was a couple I felt really anxious about because these were people that I had known at the beginning of my career – they had supported me and taught me a lot about what I know about the industry and my job,” she said.

“Others I wasn’t as worried about because I fundamentally disagreed with how they had treated me and I felt like I had been failed, so I also saw it as an opportunity to ask questions that had repeatedly been ignored and I knew in the hearing they had sworn an oath, so they had to give me answers they had previously avoided giving me.”

Court Ruled ‘Indirect Sex Discrimination’

On Friday 21 October, the tribunal judge ruled in Ms Patterson’s favour saying she had been “unfavourably treated”. The court ruled that Morrisons had subjected her to a “detriment of indirect sex discrimination after her maternity leave”.

“The claimant was constructively dismissed, and the dismissal was unfair,” the judge added.

In a statement, Morrisons said welcoming mothers back from maternity leave in a “thoughtful, consensual and decent way is incredibly important to us.”

“However, we don’t accept that we acted in an unfair way in this case and believe a number of the facts have been misrepresented and we are considering an appeal,” the supermarket added.

Although Ms Patterson found the process harder without the help of a solicitor, she stated, ‘I’m glad I’ve done this.'”

Indirect Sex Discrimination at Work Claims

If you are suffering from indirect sex discrimination in the workplace, you are not alone. Our team work with hundreds of people every year in a very similar situation as you.

We are here to offer the legal support, transparent guidance, care, and discretion you need to pursue your claim and come out the other side better off. We’ll make sure that you get the respect and the compensation that you deserve.

Legal Guidance and Support with Sex Discrimination at Work Claims

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If you think you are experiencing indirect sex discrimination, contact one of our employment law solicitors today. We can assess your case in more detail and help you understand what your options are.

Our expert employment law team will assess your situation and help you understand what your rights are. If you choose to bring an indirect sex discrimination claim against your employer we will be by your side. Our solicitors will support you and ensure that you get the full compensation that you are entitled to.

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