Bar manager, 22, who was sacked for taking time off due to ‘stress-related’ recurrent bleeding during pregnancy wins £17,000 compensation
- A bar manager was sacked after missing work due to a pregnancy-related illness
- Amanda MacPhail dismissed Sarah Twort, claiming that she undersold drinks
- A judge said Twort was fired for pregnancy-related leave and awarded £17,000
A pregnant bar manager who was told by a concerned midwife to take time off work was sacked by her boss who complained she was ‘hardly ever here’, an employment tribunal heard.
Sarah Twort, from Oban, Scotland, won £17,000 compensation after Amanda MacPhail dismissed her from Coasters Wine Bar just two weeks after a midwife advised her to stay at home.
Ms MacPhail was ‘not happy about’ having to find cover for Ms Twort’s shift when she attended emergency appointments after experiencing bleeding during her pregnancy.
Later, Ms MacPhail claimed that the ‘shocked and humiliated’ 22-year-old needed to resign because she suspected she let her partner have drinks at the bar that he hadn’t fully paid for.
The tribunal rejected this explanation and found that Ms MacPhail had discriminated against her employee by sacking her for repeated absences from work due to her pregnancy.
Sarah Twort, 22, won an employment tribunal after being sacked for taking time off her job as a bar manager in Oban due to a pregnancy-related illness (pictured: Sarah Twort, 22, Angus Clarke, 32 and baby Hector)
The Glasgow hearing was told that Ms Twort began working at Coasters Wine Bar in the Western Highlands town of Oban in March 2019 as a member of the bar staff.
In October 2020 she was promoted to position of bar manager and worked alongside Ms MacPhail, with whom she had a ‘very good’ relationship with and ‘enjoyed the responsibility’ of her new role.
The tribunal was told Ms Twort, who is from Oban, found out that she and partner Angus Clarke were expecting October the following year.
She informed Ms MacPhail and said she intended to work ‘as long as possible’ through to her due date the following May.
In addition to standard antenatal appointments, the tribunal heard that Ms Twort was forced to attend emergency appointments because she had begun to experience bleeding during her pregnancy.
Ms Twort had to arrange cover for her work shifts on these occasions – something that Ms MacPhail was ‘not happy about’.
The tribunal heard that on November 12, 2021, Mr Clarke spent an evening at the bar where he was served by Ms Twort and a colleague.
As it was a Friday evening the contractor was ‘feeling flush’ and had paid for drinks for a friend and other bar goers, the hearing was told.
The following week, Ms MacPhail asked Ms Twort if Mr Clarke had paid for all the drinks that they had had. Ms Twort asked her partner and he sent a screenshot of proof of electronic payment.
Nothing more was said about the matter.
Coasters Wine Bar (pictured) boss Amanda MacPhail fired Sarah Twort just two weeks after a midwife advised her to stay at home
In December, Ms Twort messaged Ms MacPhail trying to arrange cover for pre-booked time off – which happened to be at the same time as a Christmas booking for 24 people.
The tribunal heard that Ms MacPhail responded that she thought ‘every time something was booked’ Ms Twort was ‘taking time off and it was not fair’.
On December 7, 2021, Ms Twort had a meeting with a midwife who ‘expressed concern’ about her recurrent bleeding and advised her that it could be related to stress at work and advised time off to prevent this.
Ms Twort was handed a sick note which allowed her time off work until December 28 – which she dropped to the bar, but Ms MacPhail was not there.
The tribunal heard that Ms MacPhail was ‘frustrated’ that she had not been there when the note was delivered and considered it a particularly ‘sore point’ as she said Ms Tort was ‘hardly ever here’.
Ms Twort responded that the only time she wasn’t in work was when she wasn’t well enough to be – and that ‘for once’ she was putting herself ahead of work.
She also said she felt ‘terrible’ about leaving the bar short staffed.
Glasgow employment tribunal court (pictured) heard that Ms MacPhail felt that Ms Tort was ‘hardly ever’ at work
After ignoring a host of messages from Ms Twort, Ms MacPhail then removed her from a work group chat.
When eventually responding to Ms Twort, Ms MacPhail sent her a letter on December 21, dated December 16 – expressing her suspicion that she had ‘undersold drinks’ and ‘requested’ her to resign.
She also said that this was ‘not the first time I have had suspicions of underselling. I feel I have no trust left in you in this case’.
The tribunal heard that this left Ms Twort was ‘shocked and humiliated’ – as there had never been any previous mention of underselling and as far as she was concerned the incident of November 12 had been dealt with by the screenshot of payment.
Ms Twort claimed she had done nothing wrong on November 12 and that Ms MacPhail’s had only started ‘highlighting concerns’ since she had found out she was pregnant.
She was ‘suspicious’ that Ms MacPhail ‘no longer’ wanted to employ her as she would have to pay her maternity pay.
Ms Twort asked that a fair and reasonable disciplinary procedure be followed and she didn’t resign – but there was no further contact other than a final payslip, for which she received no money.
Her baby, Hector, was born in May this year.
The tribunal concluded that she had been the victim of pregnancy discrimination and had been unfairly dismissed.
Employment Judge Shona MacLean said the panel did not believe that the ‘underselling’ allegations were genuine.
‘It is surprising to say at the least that if those concerns were genuine, that Ms MacPhail allowed Ms Twort to continue to work another three weeks without undertaking an investigation or suspending her,’ she said.
‘The tribunal was unconvinced that the November 12 incident was the reason or principal reason for the dismissal.
‘The tribunal considered from its material facts that the reason for the dismissal was that Ms Twort was pregnant and had absences related to her pregnancy.
‘We felt that Ms Twort’s pregnancy was a significant influence on Ms MacPhail’s decision-making and was indeed the reason or principal reason for her dismissal.’
Ms Twort was handed compensation for loss of earnings amounting to £10,873.69 and a further amount of £7,000 for her injury to feelings.