A bank worker was told to “get used to feeling discomfort” by her male boss when she called in sick because she was pregnant, a tribunal heard.
Alicja Banks was told: “You are not the only one with problems” when she asked for additional toilet breaks at work, and when she let bosses know she couldn’t come in as she was experiencing contraction-like pain, she was asked what “exactly” was wrong by a female manager.
Ms Banks, 26, who had worked as a Customer Service Adviser (CSA) for Lloyds in Bristol, is now in line for compensation after the tribunal upheld her claims of pregnancy discrimination and constructive dismissal.
She had started working for the high street giant in 2019 and claimed she had been forced to quit after being ‘patronised’ and made to feel guilty for calling in sick when she could not work due to pregnancy-related illnesses.
In April 2020, Ms Banks – who was then 23 – found out she was pregnant and told her bosses shortly after, explaining to line manager Amar Chudasama how important it was for her health and safety for her to take toilet breaks whenever she needed.
The hearing was told he replied: “You are not the only one with problems… you should hear what I am going through.”
When Ms Banks was around six months pregnant she started experiencing pain that felt like contractions so called her other line manager, Joanne King, to let her know she couldn’t work. Ms King asked her: ‘What exactly seems to be wrong?’, the hearing was told.
The following day, Ms Banks emailed Mr Chudasama to tell him she had been sent to hospital by doctors after her ‘pain got worse’.
The tribunal heard that after she was discharged Mr Chudasama told her: “If it’s not an infection and there is nothing wrong with your baby, you should be at work.
“As Joanne said, you should get used to feeling discomfort, because you are pregnant.”
Ms Banks said her bosses had been “concerned” about her absence and wanted to discuss it with her, but that when she said she did not believe her pregnancy-related absence was being taken into account Mr Chudasama “replied by saying that it’s customers’ demands he has in mind”.
She started her maternity leave in November 2020 and never returned to work. In September 2021 she resigned before taking the bank to tribunal.
Upholding her claims of pregnancy discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal, Judge Christa Christensen said Ms Banks’ ‘final straw’ was when she realised that her grievance was ‘never going to be taken seriously and addressed’.
Judge Christensen said: “The totality of our findings indicate a number of incidents which include that [Lloyds] ignores specific pregnancy requests relating to health and safety, misinformed the claimant regarding how her pregnancy absences should be treated, caused her to fear that there will be negative consequences because of her pregnancy absences.
“We are satisfied from the facts as found, that we could conclude that pregnancy and pregnancy illness indeed form the reason for the treatment.”
A remedy hearing to decide Mrs Banks’ compensation will take place at a later date.