A woman has won her legal battle against the largest law firm in the world, after it was found that her position at the company was terminated while she was on maternity leave, and the evidence destroyed.
Bina Hale, aged 36, gave a tearful testimony at the employment tribunal. She spoke to the sex discrimination employment tribunal about the way she was treated by her bosses while she worked for Dentons in Milton Keynes.
Judge claims firm lacked honesty and credibility
Hale worked as a recruitment manager for the firm, and the tribunal was told that bullet points which were written during a meeting about her future had been shredded. She said that she had been chosen for redundancy during this meeting, which took place before she was able to return to work after her pregnancy.
The Human Resources manager for the company, Suzanne Barnes, said that the only reason she had for shredding the notes from the meeting was that she preferred working in an office that was paperless.
Evidence from Emma Rowe, Mrs Hale’s line manager, was rejected by the judge during the tribunal. Ms Rowe had attempted to present a single piece of white paper, which she said was from the notebook she used while in the meeting.
The judge presiding over the case went on to criticize the firm, saying that the actions which led to the dismissal of Mrs Row were neither honest or credible. Speaking to Ms Rowe, the judge said: ‘None of this is credible … a firm of lawyers ought to know that.’
Mrs Hale spoke after the hearing, saying that women who find themselves in situations similar to hers should not be scared to conform those who are discriminating against them.
She spoke to the Times, saying: ‘I strongly urge women who have been subject to similar treatment to seek justice and speak out and stop such employers taking advantage of women at a very vulnerable phase of their lives, regardless of who the employer is. Do not be afraid.’
The tribunal was told last month that Mrs Hale first started working with the firm towards the end of 2014. Andrew Harries, a senior partner at the firm described the work that Mrs Hale carried out at the firm as ‘brilliant’.
As well as being made redundant while she was on maternity leave, Mrs Hale suffered a difficult pregnancy, and during this time, her mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.
Dentons continue to deny that their dismissal of Mrs Hale was a case of pregnancy discrimination. They said that Mrs Hale was chosen as the employee to be made redundant, as she was seen as ‘less professional’ than the other two employees that they were considering making redundant.
A future hearing will be held to decide the payout Mrs Hale will receive.