A teacher who was sacked by a private girls school after becoming pregnant has won her case for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.
Rebecca Raven described how she was fired only a few days after informing her headmistress that she needed to take maternity leave, saying she was left “absolutely stunned”.
She complained to Robbie Locke, a trustee at the school, about the decision, but was told that his family had to make “sacrifices” and she and fellow teachers should be happy they even had jobs.
Mr Locke reportedly said: “Maternity leave is very disruptive to businesses and has made businesses go bust.
“We already have a staff member who has worked only four weeks this year and has already been paid for a full year. This is ridiculous as she has not done any work and she is still getting paid. This cannot happen again.”
According to Mrs Raven, he said if she claimed maternity pay some areas of the school would lose out, adding: “If some people take out more than they should, then everyone else misses out.”
The school was in an “extremely precarious” financial situation at the time, and Mr Locke had to pay £25,000 per month out of his own pocket to keep things running.
Mrs Raven, 32, started working for Howell’s School in Denbigh, North Wales, on a part-time basis as a house mistress in October 2008, but was eventually hired as an art teacher just over a year later.
But things turned sour when she was told of her dismissal in May 2011, just eight days after she wrote to acting headmistress Emma Jones to inform of her intention to take maternity leave for the birth of her third child.
Mrs Raven spoke of her disbelief when she was handed a note by Mr Locke’s wife, Nicola, informing her that she was losing her job due to a “poor take-up” of art for the upcoming academic year.
She said: “I was absolutely stunned. I have never been so shocked in my entire life. It was totally out of the blue.
“There was absolutely nothing beforehand that led me to the fact I might receive a letter saying something like that, with big bold letters at the top saying ‘notice of termination of contract’.
“I was very, very upset because I put so much of my life into the place. Still to this day I can’t get over it. It’s a horrible feeling, the feeling of your world being ripped from under you.”
Minutes of a subsequent meeting shown to the employment tribunal reveal that Mr Locke told her: “Money has been wasted in the past on sick pay and maternity pay and we have had to make sacrifices in our own family. You should all just be thankful you have jobs.”
Howell’s School said it was unaware Mrs Raven was pregnant when she was sacked, and claimed they offered her a part-time position.
However, the Shrewsbury employment tribunal sided with Mrs Raven, ruling she was unfairly dismissed from her £23,295-a-year job.
The compensation she will receive will be decided at a later hearing.
A statement by Howell’s School read: “We are disappointed by the conclusion of the tribunal and are considering an appeal. Our position remains as it was before the tribunal.”