Sex Discrimination, Redundancy and Maternity Leave

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In Eversheds Legal Services Ltd v De Belin, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) upheld the employment tribunal’s decision that effectively inflating the score of a female employee on maternity leave in a redundancy selection process constituted unlawful sex discrimination against the other, male, colleague in the relevant selection pool. In this DechertOnPoint, we report on this recent decision which illustrates that giving the benefit of the doubt to the employee on maternity leave is not always the safest option.

Background

Mr De Belin was employed as a property lawyer by Eversheds. He was placed in a pool for redundancy with his female colleague, Ms Reinholz. They were the only two employees in the pool and were assessed against five selection criteria. One of the criteria was a measure of financial performance called “lock-up”, which assessed the length of time between carrying out work and being paid for the work. This was assessed over the preceding 12-month period, during which time Ms Reinholz had been on maternity leave.

Mr De Belin scored 0.5, the lowest possible score out of a maximum score of 2. Ms Reinholz was awarded a notional score of 2, the highest possible score, on the basis that she had not been at work for some of the period under review and did not have the opportunity to influence the score. This meant that, overall, Ms Reinholz scored 27.5 and Mr De Belin scored 27.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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