Now you see it, now you don’t: discrimination ‘vanished’ after successful internal appeal

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The sequence of events for the claimant in Little v Richmond Pharmacology Ltd, a sales executive working full time, was as follows: September 2009 — start of maternity leave following the birth of her second child; April 2010 — claimant applied for a flexible working arrangement to start on her scheduled return in August 2010; 17 June 2010 — her line manager rejected the application on the basis that it was not feasible for a sales executive to work part time; 9 July — claimant appealed; 14 July — appeal letter received by her employers; 19 July — claimant resigned; 19 July — employers asked her to reconsider until the appeal hearing took place; 22 July — appeal hearing, whereby the claimant was offered a three-month trial on the terms she had suggested; 26 July — claimant confirmed that her resignation stood.

The claimant’s case in her subsequent unlawful discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal was that she had been subjected to a detriment when her application to work part time was refused on 17 June. But the tribunal, with whom the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) agreed, rejected that claim on the basis that because the line manager’s initial decision was expressed subject to the claimant’s right of appeal, it was in effect conditional on the outcome of an appeal. As that process was ultimately successful, the requirement to work full time was not to be applied to her when she completed her maternity leave. In other words, she had not suffered any detriment…

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