New mum sues firm for sex discrimination

A WOMAN has described how she felt “devastated and betrayed” after returning to work from maternity leave to find her job had changed.Jacqueline Andrews told an employment tribunal broken promises amounted to sexual discrimination and breach of contract by Rapid Electronics Ltd.

A WOMAN has described how she felt “devastated and betrayed” after returning to work from maternity leave to find her job had changed.

Jacqueline Andrews told an employment tribunal broken promises amounted to sexual discrimination and breach of contract by Rapid Electronics Ltd.

The company, based in Severalls Lane in Colchester, denied the allegation made by the former finance manager when the hearing opened yesterday in Bury St Edmunds.

Mrs Andrews, of Ann Beaumont Way, Hadleigh, had worked her way up through the company to her £27,000-a-year post before she claimed to have been left with no option than to quit.


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She had informed the company in February last year of her pregnancy and said she wanted her old job back afterwards, but ideally wanted to only work a three-day week.

While on maternity leave in July last year, Mrs Andrews said she had seen a newspaper advertisement placed by Rapid Electronics Ltd for a financial controller.

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She was concerned the post on offer appeared similar to her own, but with a different title.

Mrs Andrews told the three-member tribunal panel she had been so worried, she had contacted the company and “was assured that I would be returning to my old job after maternity leave”.

In a letter from Rapid Electronics Ltd, she was told there had been a change of structure within the company, but she should not panic as there were no underlying issues.

As Mrs Andrews prepared to return to work in January after giving birth to her son, she was called to a meeting at the company to be told her role would now be handling only budget and payroll tasks.

“It was clear to me that my grade and status would be lower as I had no responsibility for any staff and it would not be as wide ranging or challenging,” she said.

“I felt totally devastated and betrayed as I have been told I would be coming back to my old job.”

Mrs Andrews had also been responsible previously for jobs including liaising with banks, signing cheques worth up to £100,000 and handling VAT returns.

She added her work with a team to turn around the accounts department had been rewarded with a 33% pay rise in a single year.

“I was passionate about my job as accounts manager and desperate to return to it. I loved my job immensely, it was a challenge,” said Mrs Andrews.

Mrs Andrews said she had never been given the opportunity to apply for the financial controller job, despite having qualifications that were similar to the woman who was appointed.

She told the tribunal she had been upset to find the company's new finance manager had been doing all the same things she had previously done, but had been told by management the post she now had had been the only one on offer.

Mrs Andrews said by February she had felt that she had no option other than to resign.

“I was a loyal and committed employee and I believed someone else was doing my job, albeit by another name. The company's behaviour did not match the assurances given,” she added.

Rapid Electronics Ltd, which distributes electronic components and related products, is planning to call four witnesses to give evidence on its behalf.

The hearing continues today.

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