Fired After Refusing To Abort Her Baby: Woman Wins Case For Unfair Dismissal

Pregnant (Phalinn Ooi / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Phalinn Ooi / Flickr / CC / Cropped

A pregnant Glaswegian charity worker was sacked by the fundraising company where she worked after her manager told her to have an abortion and she refused. An employment tribunal has now awarded £12,000 to 22-year-old Teri Cumlin having found her former employer, Engage Fundraising, guilty of unfair dismissal and sex and pregnancy discrimination.

The Daily Mail reports the tribunal heard that in July last year Ms Cumlin told her boss, Mark Robertson, she was pregnant. She said:

“He started shouting in my face, telling me how stupid I was and that they wouldn’t be able to keep me on. It was awful. He drove me and another worker home at the end of our shift and kept saying, ‘That’s Teri’s life down the pan, Teri’s life is over now.'”

The young mother, whose second child, Thomas, is now four months old, said: “I was left with nothing. I had no money, I was worrying about losing my house. It was such a horrible time. I had a wee girl and a baby on the way and he knew that and yet he still still did what he did.”

She continued:

“He said to me, “Do you want to be that girl from Maryhill with babies to different dads?”, and then it was, “If you want a career than I’d advise you to terminate your baby.”

“I said, “I’m not going to have a termination.” I explained that I had had a stillborn previously and there was no way I was having an abortion. I was crying in the street and he told me I was making myself cry. He said it was all my fault.”

The Mirror reports that on another occasion she was taken ill on a hot day but Robertson refused her request to stand in the shade, before again berating her about her pregnancy. He also criticised Cumlin for taking too many toilet breaks asking her not to drink so much.

She was regularly sent home unpaid with Robertson saying she was unfit to work, and told to attend her shifts later than colleagues so he could then publicly criticise her for being late. Ms Cumlin was eventually demoted as team leader due to her pregnancy and complained about the manager’s conduct to no avail.

In December she was suspended from work for misconduct and was dismissed a week later. The tribunal judge, Robert Gall, labelled the dismissal “an act of discrimination.”

Ms Cumlin suffered high blood pressure during her pregnancy and had an emergency caesarean section a month early in February. Thomas was in intensive care for a week after his birth. She added:

“When my baby was in intensive care I kept thinking about what he had said to me. I was so angry. I just kept thinking, ‘My poor wee baby’s not well.’ I kept thinking, ‘How could he have told me to have a termination?'”

Engage Fundraising did not defend itself at the tribunal hearing but now plans to appeal.

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