Hannah Pawley was fired from Hanley’s Restaurant, Driffield, after she took three weeks sick leave to recover.
The restaurant, run by head chef Sean Hanley, refused to pay her the statutory sick leave which she was legally entitled to whilst she was off work, a tribunal ruled.
Leeds Employment Tribunal also found that the employer falsified records to hide the fact that she wasn’t being remunerated, which left Hannah unable to claim benefits.
After a two-year legal battle, Hannah was awarded £12,000 for injury to feelings and £5,000 for her sick pay and potential lost earnings.
Hannah, who has since had a baby and started a homemade food delivery service, said: “I felt used and betrayed by my employer Sean Hanley. I asked for my monies owed and a valid reason for firing me.
“As he couldn’t provide one, I felt I had no other option but to bring my case forward to ACAS [the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] and fight. Even at my most broken and vulnerable point, I felt I had to fight for this gross wrongdoing.”
Hannah had been working for Hanley’s Restaurant for five months and as a chef for four years in the lead up to her dismissal.
But in November 2019, she suffered an ectopic pregnancy and had to take sick leave as she was unwell and had to cope with strong medical treatment.
Hannah’s leave was certified as pregnancy-related sickness.
According to the law, she was entitled to take as much leave as necessary without any detriment to her employment. In addition, her employer had been informed that she had experienced an ectopic pregnancy and needed time to physically recover.
Speaking after the ruling, Hannah said it was a “relief” to finally get justice.
She added: “The relief to know that it has been officially recognised and noted that I was treated poorly is hugely healing. I hope this is not only a warning to employers but a big plus to any women who feel they have been wronged. If it feels wrong – it probably is.”
Taryn Robinson, from charity Pregnant Then Screwed, who advised Hannah following her sacking, said it was time to end penalties incurred by women following motherhood.
She said: “At Pregnant Then Screwed we hear of women being forced out of their jobs following a miscarriage time and time again. Sadly, these women rarely use the law to access the justice they deserve as they simply don't have the emotional energy.
“Employers need to do so much better to ensure their workplaces are fair and safe environments for everyone. There is a national conversation taking place about the importance of progressive reproductive health-related policies
“Cases like Hannah’s show the negative impact that a lack of support and protection can have on women and their careers.”
Ms Robinson added that it was important that more women came forward if they felt they’d been mistreated by an employer.
She said: “Employers such as Asos, Kelloggs, Monzo, John Lewis and Abel and Cole have all recently updated and launched new fairer reproductive health policies.
“It’s time all companies followed their lead. For anyone that this has happened to, cases like Hannah’s show that you are not alone and can stand up for your rights.”
Hanley’s Restaurant refused to comment when approached.