Pregnant mum wins £17,000 at tribunal after being fired from shop

A pregnant mum who was fired from her place of employment has won £17,000 in compensation. Ms Sintija Gaikniece, aged twenty-five, lost her job at a vape chain VPZ store after her bosses told her they had received complaints about her attitude from their customers. 

Soon after she was fired Ms Gaikniece discovered that a job advertisement had been placed for her position some days before she had been fired.

Ms Gaikniece took her claim before an employment tribunal who agreed with her that the firm had been trying to get rid of her. VPZ were ordered to pay compensation to Ms Gaikniece.

The tribunal heard that Ms Gaikniece was six months pregnant, and she felt that the company did not want anyone to be on maternity leave for any length of time. This was the reason VPZ wanted to pay her off. Ms Gaikniece stated that this was why the company came up with a reason to fire her and replace her. 

Ms Gaikniece started to work for VPZ in January 2022 and found out that she was pregnant about two weeks after she started work. 

When she informed her managers about her pregnancy, she was told that her maternity leave would be discussed. However, Ms Gaikniece said that the conversation never took place, and on June 29th she was fired.

At the end of June Ms Gaikniece had a probationary meeting with her boss. He informed her that there had been complaints about her ‘customer attitude.’ She was never told exactly what the complaint had been and was simply told that she had not passed her probation. Her boss informed her that she could leave right away. Ms Gaikniece left, went home and later signed on for Universal Credit.

With the help of a charity working against pregnancy discrimination, namely Maternity Action, Ms Gaikniece lodged her claim.

She requested from VPZ her personal information, to include a probationary handbook containing her feedback. VPZ, who have about 150 stores in the UK, did not file a formal response to her claim.

After the tribunal hearing employment judge Sally Cowen ordered VPZ to pay Ms Gaikniece £17,583.06 which included £4,000 for loss of earnings, £300 of notice pay and the remainder as compensation.

Ms Gaikniece commented that she felt VPZ thought she would simply drop the case. They do not look after their staff. To her it felt as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders after the ruling.

Ms Gaikniece said that she wished the company had accepted that they had made a mistake and apologised but they did not, and this was a disappointment. 



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