Northern Ireland

£45,000 discrimination payout for former cafe employee

A woman who was refused maternity pay by the owner of a Londonderry cafe has been awarded more than £45,000.

An industrial tribunal ruled Paul McGrory, owner of Cafe Ole, had also unfairly dismissed Elizabeth Quigley

He failed to organise her maternity pay because he had put her through the books as a part-time member of staff, rather than a full-time manager.

He then told her to lie to social security staff in order to cover up what he had done.

As a manager Ms Quigley worked between 40 and 45 hours a week.

She reduced her schedule to 30 hours a week when she became pregnant in November 2007.

She continued to work right up until the day before she was due to give birth in July 2008.

Her waters broke while she was still at work in the cafe, which operated from the Richmond Shopping Centre.

She had earlier spoken to Mr McGrory about maternity pay and in the days after the birth contacted him again to make sure the matter was being sorted out.

Distressed

He eventually told her that he had only being putting her "through the books" for 15 hours work a week so officially she did not qualify for statutory maternity pay.

He said she should go to the social security agency and lie about her hours in order to claim benefits.

Ms Quigley became very upset as she was not prepared to tell lies to obtain benefits.

As a result she use her savings to live on, as well as support from her mother.

After her solicitor contacted the Office of Industrial Tribunals about the matter, Mr McGrory made a number of "spurious and malicious allegations" to the tribunals office regarding Ms Quigley.

The tribunal heard that the whole experience left her feeling shocked, distressed and betrayed.

Ms Quigley added that she was unable to enjoy her initial period with her baby as she was instead spending time trying to get her maternity pay and find other money on which to live.

The tribunal heard from a doctor who said Ms Quigley became ill as a result of her treatment by Mr McGrory.

The tribunal ruled that Ms Quigley had been unfairly dismissed, suffered sexual discrimination, as well as distress and injury to her feelings.