Mother wins discrimination case against global law firm Dentons

A mother has won a sex discrimination case against the world’s largest law firm after they sacked her while she was on maternity leave and shredded the evidence.

Bina Hale, 36, broke down in tears during the employment tribunal as she described the treatment she received from her bosses at Dentons in Milton Keynes.

The former recruitment manager was selected for redundancy during a meeting before she had returned to work.

The employment tribunal was told handwritten bullet points from the discussion had been shredded.

Human resources manager Suzanne Barnes claimed she destroyed the notes because she liked to work in a paperless office.

Mrs Hale’s line manager Emma Rowe was scolded  by the judge after producing a single piece of white paper at the tribunal which she claimed was from the notebook she used to make notes in the meeting.

The hearing was told the pages from the book were actually brown.

The judge blasted the firm for a lack of honesty and credibility. The Times reports he told Ms Rowe: ‘None of this is credible . . . a firm of lawyers ought to know that.’

Speaking after, Mrs Hale said women should not be afraid of confronting discrimination.

‘I strongly urge women who have been subject to similar treatment to seek justice and speak out and stop such employers taking advantage of women at a very vulnerable phase of their lives, regardless of who the employer is. Do not be afraid,’ she told the Times.

A payout will be decided at a future hearing.

Last month the tribunal was told how Mrs Hale started working for the firm in December 2014.

She said she saved the company thousands of pounds by hiring staff directly, rather than through agencies.

Senior partner at Dentons, Andrew Harris, described her work as ‘brilliant’.

Mrs Hale experienced a difficult pregnancy and her mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.

She told the hearing she was shouted at over the phone by Emma Rowe, who was head of recruitment at their London office.

Mrs Rowe, HR business partner Suzanne Barnes, and then-practice manager Tina Crawford, marked Ms Hale down on professionalism and said that she was made redundant because she scored the lowest.

Discrimination by association

The case of a Northern Irish bakery’s refusal to fulfil an order for a cake bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” has been widely publicised in the news since 2014, and litigation has been ongoing ever since.

As this was a case about potential discrimination against a customer, rather than a worker, it was originally heard in the County Court. But the same legislation applied as would have applied to a discrimination case in the Employment Tribunal, so it is an interesting case from an employment law point of view…

…sincere religious belief will not exempt an employer or a provider of services from complying

with the equality laws…