Woman who won £300,000 in pregnancy sacking claim wins extra £20,000

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Naomi Hefford’s initial compensation of £294,000 was boosted to nearly £314,000 (Picture:

A GP practice manager has won more than £300,000 in a discrimination claim after bosses sacked her for falling pregnant and referred to her as ‘mother hen’.

Naomi Hefford stumbled on the partners secretly hatching a plan to axe her and discussing what ‘excuse’ they could get away with.

This was just three days after she announced to colleagues she was going to have a baby, in 2018.

An employment tribunal heard how the GPs then launched a bogus misconduct investigation and fired Mrs Hefford by email as she in hospital about to give birth to her daughter.

It found she had suffered unfair dismissal, pregnancy discrimination, victimisation and breach of contract.

She successfully sued the doctors for discrimination and was awarded £294,000 in compensation earlier this year.

Now she has won an extra £20,000 after arguing that she was entitled to a greater payout – taking into account the higher pay and bonus she would have received had she not lost her job.

Mrs Hefford cried when she heard her colleagues discussing how to sack how (Picture: Facebook )

The hearing in east London was told that the Mrs Hefford began work at Queensway Surgery, Southend, Essex, in November 2017.

She was hired following an interview with partners Dr Michael Jack, Dr Ajith Sivaprasad, Dr Jamil Sorouji, Dr Olanike Aderonmu and Dr Sajid Azeem.

During the application process, Mrs Hefford said she was asked whether she had children or was planning to have them.

Although Dr Jack denied this, the tribunal concluded that he had childbearing ‘in his mind’.

A year later she informed them that she was pregnant and that she had been deemed ‘high risk’.

Three days after telling her colleagues, the practice manager was left in tears when she overheard Dr Sivaprasad, Dr Azeem and Dr Aderonmu declaring they needed to ‘focus on sacking her’.

Caption: Queensway Surgery, Southend, Essex
Photographer: Leon McGowran
Provider: google
(Credits: Leon McGowran)

Mrs Hefford claimed she heard a female voice saying ‘If we are going to do this what will be our excuse?’.

She also heard the doctors calling her a ‘mother hen’ at which point she ‘became very upset and ran away because she was scared that the people in the room were going to hear her,’ the tribunal heard.

Mrs Hefford, who had a habit of using her phone to record meetings so she could accurately write up minutes, later realised the conversation had been accidentally taped.

The hearing was told that by January 2019, the GPs had decided to sack her and launched an investigation into her conduct.

They claimed she had been rude in her ‘abrasive’ emails to staff, undermined colleagues and that feedback had ‘no effect’ on her. They then invited her to a ‘heavy-handed’ meeting without notice.

Mrs Hefford complained of pregnancy discrimination to HR advisors, who ruled against her, and she was dismissed for gross misconduct in June.

Tribunal judges concluded that the misconduct allegations were exaggerated and that the real reason she had been sacked by the doctors was because she was pregnant.

They added: ‘This was the catalyst that started the chain of events.’

Mrs Hefford was originally awarded £294,372 in compensation but this has now been increased to £313,672.

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