Mum who was sacked for refusing to work weekends wins 'landmark' appeal for parents

25 June 2021, 10:26 | Updated: 25 June 2021, 10:29

Gemma Dobson was fired because she couldn't work weekends
Gemma Dobson was fired because she couldn't work weekends. Picture: PA Images/Google Maps

A community nurse who was fired for refusing to work the weekends has won an appeal.

A mum who was fired for refusing to work weekends due to childcare issues has won an appeal.

Gemma Dobson, 40, was working as a community nurse in Cumbria when she was sacked for being unable to work the shift patterns back in 2016.

At the time, her employer, an Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust North Cumbria, was introducing more flexible working which meant staff had to work unsociable hours.

Gemma Dobson has won an appeal to refute losing her job
Gemma Dobson has won an appeal to refute losing her job. Picture: PA Images

However, Ms Dobson was unable to do this as she had to look after her children, two of whom are disabled.

She originally took her employers to an employment tribunal claiming she was unfairly dismissed and was subject to indirect sex discrimination, but was unsuccessful.

However, after making an appeal, this was upheld by the president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Mr Justice Choudhury in London.

Ms Dobson’s solicitors - Slater and Gordon - argued that she should not be penalised for having care responsibilities.

Employment lawyer Doreen Reeves said: "It is established in law that there is a 'childcare disparity' as women are more likely to take the lion's share of caring for children.

"Working mothers should not be tasked to prove this assumption time and time again when they bring employment tribunal claims.

"This important landmark decision gives a clear warning, working mothers with caring responsibilities should not be penalised if they are not able to work flexibly to meet business needs or demands of a service."

The case will now go back to an employment tribunal who will consider the case of indirect discrimination and unfair dismissal.

A mother of three was sacked for not agreeing to work weekends
A mother of three was sacked for not agreeing to work weekends. Picture: Getty Images

A spokeswoman for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said: "The trust notes the judgment of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

"The trust does not believe that it is appropriate to comment further at this stage given that the matter will return to the original employment tribunal.

"It is important to note that the Employment Appeal Tribunal did not find in its judgment that Mrs Dobson was discriminated against or unfairly dismissed by the trust, which is why the matter will return to the original employment tribunal for further consideration."