McDermotts faces pregnancy discrimination claim from former associate

Blackstone Chambers is advising McDermott Will & Emery as the US firm faces pregnancy discrimination claims from a former associate in London.

Cheng Tan, a former trademark associate in the US firm’s London office, filed a complaint with the Central London Employment Tribunal. She is suing the firm for unfair dismissal, pregnancy discrimination and sex discrimination, as well as indirect age discrimination and victimisation.

McDermotts instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Thomas Croxford directly to represent it in the tribunal hearing, which started last Friday and will end later today (12 July). The claimant is represented by Outer Temple Chambers’ Lydia Seymour, instructed by Simon Armstrong of Wimbledon-based firm Armstrongs.

According to press reports, the mother-of-two was formally made redundant on 29 November 2012. She claimed that she was made the sole victim of redundancy from the firm after she told her boss she needed more than six months of maternity leave to recover after a series of operations.

The Malaysian lawyer told the press that on 5 May 2011 she gave birth to a baby girl through an emergency caesarean section, but there were complications and both her and her newborn needed continued hospital treatment. She underwent two operations to repair organs that had been damaged during the childbirth.

On 3 November 2011, she was called to a meeting, originally thought to discuss her return to work, but instead was told she faced redundancy.

McDermotts partner and general counsel Alan Rutkoff said in a statement: “The firm denies the allegations made in this case. That said, we cannot comment on specific claims since this is a matter of active litigation.”