Published: 21:14, 10 May 2021
| Updated: 21:24, 10 May 2021
A pregnant woman has been awarded £14,000 for unfair dismissal after her boss told her she was "too busy" to handle her request for maternity leave.
Yuliaa Khimicheva was unceremoniously sacked from her job as a magazine finisher at Key Promotions (UK) Ltd, a packing and print works on the Medway City Estate, in 2019.
She joined the company in March the same year and was still on her probation period when she discovered she was pregnant, an employment tribunal in Ashford heard.
After initial good performances Ms Khimicheva was forced to take time off sick after suffering from illness related to her pregnancy.
But when she tried to explain the reasons to her manager, Caroline Edwards, she claims she was met with the reply: "We are not a charity organisation to pay for not enough work".
Ms Khimicheva says she notified her boss in early July she was pregnant and that she needed time off but was told by her manager “I’m too busy for this”.
Just a couple of weeks later the magazine finisher was informed by the packing plant a decision had been taken to terminate her employment.
"We are not a charity organisation to pay for not enough work..."
Mrs Edwards told the tribunal she held concerns about the employee's work which predated the pregnancy and that she had been absent on numerous occasions.
She claimed to have dismissed Ms Khimicheva strictly on performance grounds, and that she was unaware of her pregnancy.
The letter terminating her employment addressed her simply as "Y Khimicheva", and read: "Following our discussion regarding your production and attendance of late…
"As your production was lower than it should be after such time your attendance started to fall behind.
"As a result being very busy with work and your continued absence I have decided this job is not working for you or for the company."
But during a virtual hearing the tribunal said the letter outlining the reasons for Ms Khimicheva’s dismissal was "inadequate" and "discourteous".
It concluded: "We find on balance Ms Khimicheva’s account more credible, given that it is consistently given, with supportive detail.
"If Ms Khimicheva’s account is right, Mrs Edwards knew of the pregnancy before the date that she says she decided to dismiss. That would point to the pregnancy being a factor in her thinking."
However, the tribunal went on to add that it didn't rely solely on evidence of these discussions alone in determining the matter.
The judge, in explaining the tribunal's findings, said the dismissal took place on July 26 by which time "there is no doubt that Mrs Edwards knew of the pregnancy".
Its judgment read: "The Tribunal is satisfied that the principal reason for the dismissal was related to and connected with her pregnancy because it related to her pregnancy-related illness
"The dismissal amounted to unfavourable treatment because of illness suffered by her because of her pregnancy and is pregnancy discrimination."