In the recent Equality Tribunal decision of Jennifer Kane v SMT Fund Services t/a SuMi Trust, the Tribunal found that a former Funds Administrator employee had not been discriminated against on the grounds of her gender regarding the extension of her fixed-term contract.
The Complainant commenced employment on the 7 March 2013 on a full-time fixed-term contract as a Funds Administrator. The Complainant submitted to the Tribunal that she was treated less favourably than two of her male colleagues, one of which was offered a permanent position and the other was offered a longer extension of eight months. The Complainant also alleged that these two male colleagues had been warned about their work performance, whereas she had never received any performance related warnings.
The Complainant also submitted that she was discriminated as a result of her pregnancy, as her male manager made a comment about women who went on maternity leave as being “unbelievable” but the Complainant subsequently confirmed to the Tribunal that she was not progressing with her complaint of discrimination on the basis of her pregnancy as she had not disclosed her pregnancy to her employer at that time.
The Complainant’s contract was due to end on the 6 March 2014 and the Complainant enquired into a possible extension of her contract. The Complainant was offered a 2.5 month extension of her contract and then discovered that a male colleague was offered a two year contract to replace a member of staff who was not returning, even though the Complainant had more experience than this male colleague and also worked in the department where the vacancy arose.
The Complainant raised a Grievance regarding the unfavourable treatment, and then appealed the findings of the Grievance, neither of which found in her favour. The Complainant then refused to accept the 2.5 month extension of her contract.
The Tribunal noted that the Respondent Employer had a policy of employing staff on fixed-term contracts, due to the financial crisis, and that the Respondent had produced evidence of the staff they have given extensions to their fixed-term contracts, which included a female staff member. The Tribunal found that the Respondent’s policy was applied consistently and accordingly the Complainant was found not to have been discriminated against on her gender.
As regards the comment made by the Complainant’s work colleague, the Tribunal found that while the comment was made the Complainant had not disclosed her pregnancy to her manager at that time and the Complainant did not raise the comment as an issue until she was appealing her 2.5 month extension.
Accordingly, the Tribunal found that the Complainant had not been discriminated against by her employer on the ground of gender.
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