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Croydon discrimination: New mother wins payout of up to £9k after being left out of Christmas party

New mother wins payout of up to £9k after she was left out of Christmas party while on maternity leave

  • Catriona Howie won up to £9,000 after bosses forgot to invite her to a party
  • She lost her claim a colleague discriminated against her by mocking baby name
  • Mrs Howie worked for luxury kitchen and design firm Holloways of Ludlow
  • When arranging her return to work she was told her role was no longer required 

A new mother has won up to £9,000 after her bosses forgot to invite her to the office Christmas party when she was on maternity leave.

A tribunal ruled the snub to Catriona Howie merited compensation because of ‘injury to her feelings’. However she lost her claim that a colleague had discriminated against her by mocking her decision to name her daughter after the singer Elvis Presley.

The tribunal was told that Mrs Howie worked for luxury kitchen and design firm Holloways of Ludlow as general manager, starting in 2013. 

After going on maternity leave in July 2017 – during which time she gave birth to Presley – Catriona Howie and the company agreed she would return to work the following summer (file image)

After going on maternity leave in July 2017 – during which time she gave birth to Presley – Mrs Howie and the company agreed she would return to work the following summer.

Holloways, which has showrooms in London, decided not to hold a traditional Christmas party that year and organised a trip to a pub instead. 

Bosses put £200 behind the bar and informed staff by word of mouth or text.

Sarah Nelson, a director, told the hearing that ‘it did not occur to her’ to invite Mrs Howie. ‘It was not a proper party and nor was it a normal year,’ she said.

Mrs Howie told the hearing she felt a conscious effort was being made to make her feel unwelcome in the business. 

A tribunal ruled the snub to Mrs Howie merited compensation because of ‘injury to her feelings’. Pictured, the employment tribunal service in Croydon

A tribunal ruled the snub to Mrs Howie merited compensation because of ‘injury to her feelings’. Pictured, the employment tribunal service in Croydon

And she said she was shocked when, while trying to arrange her return to work after her leave, she was told her role was no longer required.

Finding the company guilty of maternity discrimination, Judge Corinna Ferguson said: ‘She was overlooked because she was on maternity leave.’

The tribunal in Croydon, south London, ruled Holloways had discriminated against Mrs Howie by withholding information about its difficult financial position.

It also found the mother had been unfairly dismissed. The judge said the panel would consider an award of between £900 and £8,800 as well as £1,027 in unpaid wages and holiday pay. 

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