Halifax employee's '˜year of hell' after she was sacked for being pregnant

A job agency gave an employee 'a year of hell' after she was sacked for being PREGNANT, an employment tribunal heard.

Tuesday, 6th June 2017, 9:12 am
Updated Thursday, 8th June 2017, 3:29 pm

Daniella Lewandowski, 31, was unfairly dismissed by the Bradford District Apprenticeship Training Agency when she announced she was going to become a mother.

The expectant mother, who joined the agency in 2015, was due to renew her £33,000-a-year managerial role - but was told she would not be offered a new contract.

Tribunal Judge John Robertson awarded Ms Lewandowski, who later miscarried the child, a total of £25,000 in compensation against the agency ran by Get Bradford Working programme.

Judge Robertson ruled: “We do find the dismissal was both substantially and procedurally unfair.

“Being dismissed and losing your job because you are pregnant is a serious act of discrimination.”

Ms Lewandowski said she had been told her contract, due to end on March 31, 2016, would be extended for a year, but after her pregnancy came to light she was informed this would no longer happen.

The tribunal hearing in Leeds, heard Ms Lewandowski made legal claims against the agency for discrimination because of her pregnancy and for unfair dismissal.

The respondents, who denied she lost her job because of pregnancy, told the tribunal that she was dismissed because of redundancy, and that her fixed term contract had expired.

But Ms Lewandowski said that her contract had been verbally extended early in 2016 after she had been promoted to apprenticeship manager and that she had been awarded a pay increase.

She said she had spent five weeks “chasing” the written terms of her extended contract, which would have kept her in the job until March 2017 and that she was dismissed after announcing her pregnancy.

Ms Lewandowski accused the respondents of making her feel vulnerable and complained she had experienced a “year of hell”.

Judge Robertson said the claim was not an exaggeration and sided with the complainant.

She complained her contract had been terminated prematurely and said she had lost the trust and confidence of her employers, adding: “I loved my job - I was punished for being pregnant.”

The tribunal report also says that some of the respondents from the agency had given “unreliable” evidence.

Judge Robertson concluded that Ms Lewandowski, who unfortunately had suffered a miscarriage but had found other employment, had been treated unfairly by the respondents by way of dismissing her because of her pregnancy.

He awarded her £9,130, including interest, £15,600 for injury to feelings and £435 for loss of statutory rights.

At the time of her dismissal, the agency’s board included Andrew Welsh, Group CEO of Bradford College and Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, who is now the leader of Bradford Council but then was in charge of employment issues for the authority.

The agency which hosts offices in Bradford, West Yorks., is a joint venture between Bradford College and Bradford Council.

It describes itself as an organisation offering an “all round hassle free solution to hiring an apprentice by acting as a broker between employer and apprentice”.

A spokesman for Bradford District Apprenticeship Training Agency said that it was sorry for the “unintended” distress caused to Ms Lewandowski.

He said: “We understand that this has been a very difficult case for the individual involved and are sorry for any distress caused, albeit unintended.

“We are now considering the tribunal judgment and we will look to learn lessons from it.”

The mum-of-one has denied that the stress of losing her job was the reason she lost her unborn baby.

Speaking about the case Ms Lewandowski said: “The case was just horrendous, I just couldn’t believe they would sack me for being pregnant.

“Not once have they apologised until the comments that I have seen today, but they have never said sorry to me personally.

“I’ve moved on now, you can print what you want about the case, but I am moving on.”

Danielle, 31, admitted that she just wanted to put the whole of 2016 behind her.

Asked if she thought the undue stress of losing her job had an impact on her miscarriage, she said: “I think there are lots of things that can result in a miscarriage, but I wouldn’t say it was from the stress of losing my job.

“I had literally just told them that I was pregnant around the three month mark, I told them face to face, then they decided to not renew my contract.

“I just think it was bang out of order - no one should go through what I’ve been through.

“I hear that it’s really hard to win these things, but they [Bradford District Apprenticeship Training Agency] treated me badly.

“All the information of the case is detailed online - there is nothing else I want to say about it.”

Daniella, who represented herself at the tribunal in April this year, said she was pleased by the result, but was unhappy that the company had never apologised directly to her.

“They never once said sorry, or the stress they caused me.

“I think for anyone to say they don’t have a job anymore would make anyone stressed.

“I am now working back at Bradford Council in recruitment development where I work hard to recruit head teachers for schools.”