Liz Earle ordered to pay £17k to sacked pregnant worker

Helen LarkinImage copyright
Helen Larkin

Image caption

Helen Larkin said the case had cast a “huge shadow” on her time with her new daughter

A woman who was sacked by a beauty company when she was eight months pregnant has been awarded more than £17,000 by an employment tribunal.

Helen Larkin, 38, from Portsmouth, said she was given two weeks’ notice of her redundancy from Liz Earle in June 2018.

She claimed the company then rejected her applications for two other roles because of her impending maternity.

Liz Earle, which denied discrimination at the tribunal, later said it had “fallen short” of its standards.

Mrs Larkin had worked for the Ryde-based company for five years when her job was terminated.

She told the hearing she believed her redundancy was rushed through before her maternity leave when she would have fallen into a protected period of employment.

The mother of two said she was not interviewed for two new digital marketing roles at Liz Earle, even though they were similar to the job she had been doing.

Mrs Larkin, who represented herself, said she had brought the case to “empower women to speak up”.

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Mrs Larkin represented herself at Southampton employment tribunal

Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, she said: “It has cast such a huge shadow over what should have been really special time for me and my daughter.

“I wanted to show you can stand up to people and for yourself. It happens to so many women in so many companies.”

The Liz Earle Beauty Company was founded in 1995 but was later sold and is currently owned by the US-based pharmaceutical giant Walgreens Boots Alliance.

The company, which was ordered to pay £17,303, told the tribunal the redundancy was not discrimination but part of a restructuring in which three other roles were terminated.

It said: “The wellbeing of our people is of the highest importance to us and we always aim to ensure they are treated fairly.

“Over the course of the tribunal hearing… it seemed that we fell short of our standards in some areas, which we sincerely regret.”

Sarah Ronan, from the employment rights campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, said the three-month time limit for women to file claims should be doubled.

She said: “When this happens… you’re vulnerable and exhausted and the last thing you want to do is take on a protracted legal battle.”

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