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GP manager awarded over £300K after sacked for getting pregnant

A GP practice manager has been awarded more than £300,000 in a discrimination claim after bosses sacked her for falling pregnant and held meetings over what excuses they could use to dismiss her.

Naomi Hefford was awarded around £294,000 earlier this year after it was revealed that her employers, Queensway Surgery in Southend, Essex, had unfairly dismissed her.

The mum-of-two has been awarded a further £20,000 – six months after winning a tribunal claim for discrimination.

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Judges ruled this week that Ms Hefford was owed a higher wage consideration, due to a mistake in calculating pension contributions and compensation for lost bonuses. The recalculation means she is now due a total of £313,672.36, according to The Mirror.

In June, it was found that Ms Hefford’s bosses had conspired to sack her after she announced she was pregnant in November 2018, a year after she began working at the surgery.

The mum said she had overheard them saying: “If we are going to do this what will be our excuse?”

Ms Hefford was later subjected to an investigation into her behaviour at work and confronted at a “heavy-handed” meeting, of which Judge McLaren wrote: “The lack of notice, format of the meeting and the manner in which it was conducted were not in accordance with Acas [Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] best practice. We conclude that it would clearly put an individual with a high-risk pregnancy under an unnecessary degree of stress.”

Queensway Surgery in Southend where Naomi Hefford worked

Ms Hefford raised a grievance at work, which was dismissed, and she was then put into a formal disciplinary process over what her bosses feared were breaches of confidentiality and other misbehaviour.

She was suspended in April 2019 and sacked while in hospital two months later.

Employment judge Fiona McLaren agreed that evidence suggested doctors at Queensway had concocted the plan, writing in her judgement: “There were no significant concerns about the claimant’s performance at this time, the only change in circumstance was the claimant’s pregnancy.”

Judge McLaren found on the balance of probabilities that Ms Hefford had not committed any actions amounting to gross misconduct.

Concluding her judgement, she wrote that Ms Hefford’s pregnancy was the main reason she was sacked and that concerns about her conduct before she announced she was expecting were “trivial”.

She added: “We have found that the respondent had determined to dismiss the claimant at least by January 2019. The dismissal which occurred later that year was said to be based on four allegations of gross misconduct.

“We have found that the allegations of breach of confidence did not occur. We have concluded that the remaining three allegations are very minor and do not in constitute a disciplinary issue.”

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