Northern Ireland

Laura Ashley employee awarded £9k for discrimination

An NI Laura Ashley employee has been awarded nearly £10,000 after she was discriminated against on the grounds of her sex.

The industrial tribunal found she suffered indirect discrimination after her rotas were changed.

The woman, who was the primary carer of a child with an attention disorder, was unable to work the new shift pattern.

She was awarded £6,000 for injury to feelings, £880 for loss of earnings and £2,640 for future loss.

The woman had worked at the store for five years prior to the change and had been clear that she had to be available to collect her son from school every day.

The tribunal heard that under the old rota system this had not previously been a problem.

The store she worked in was operating with an annual loss of £250,000 and the Laura Ashley manager for Ireland had decided to implement a fully flexible rota in order to save money.

This meant employees had to make themselves available to work in the shop over a wide range of hours rather than a fixed rota with defined shift patterns.

The tribunal heard the rota change had been successfully implemented in other stores across Northern Ireland, but the manager who implemented the changes had not adequate equal opportunities training.

The claimant said she was told unless she accepted the new rota pattern she would be out of a job.

The company did offer her an alternative job within the store, but it came with reduced hours and salary.

During this period she took four months sick leave due to stress.

The tribunal found that the rota disproportionately affected women in comparison to male employees.