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Employment Tribunal 2020 Case Ruling – Marital Status Discrimination

Marital Status Discrimination

Bacon v Advanced Fire Solutions Ltd and Ellis: Less favourable treatment after announcing divorce was marital status discrimination

Mrs Bacon’s husband joined the organisation after Mrs Bacon, but both went on to take up Director roles. In 2017, Mrs Bacon informed Mr Bacon of her wish to separate however wanted to continue in the company after the divorce. At the time, Mrs Bacon took an extended period out of the office to focus on her marriage and children. However, the Managing Director, Mr Graham Ellis, advised the accountants that Mrs Bacon would no longer be working with the organisation and to remove her access to the company systems. She was also removed as a signatory on the account. However, during marriage counselling, Mr Bacon then went on to inform her, that she could return to work when she was ready and in the following month, she was reinstated as a Director.

However, two weeks later Mrs Bacon informed her husband that she wanted to proceed with the divorce and the following day, her role, was advertised and she was removed from the position as director and her name was subsequently taken off the list at Companies house.

She was then later subjected to an investigation into the misuse of company equipment, although no specific allegations, and both Mr Ellis and Mr Bacon reported her to the police. Mrs Bacon went on to raise a grievance in relation to harassment and victimisation in light of her suspension and being reported to the police. She was then later dismissed for alleged IT misuse.
Mrs Bacon brought claims of unfair dismissal and direct discrimination on sex, marriage, and civil partnership. The tribunal unanimously concluded that the Managing Director, Mr Ellis, had distanced himself from Mrs Bacon following her separation and that he was complicit with Mr Bacon in urging the police investigate Mrs Bacon’s IT usage. They also found that Mr Ellis believed everything that he was told by Mr Bacon and that Mr Bacon was pulling the strings.

The tribunal found that Mrs Bacon was fired from her role as director, after her divorce from another employee and had been a victim of marital discrimination.
This case is a reminder of the importance of having a relationship at work policy to make sure those members of staff who are in relationships behave in an appropriate and professional manner during and after a relationship ends.

Full details of the case can be read at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5ee3830b86650c03ee92afa9/Ms_K_Bacon_v__1__Advanced_Fire_solutions_Ltd__in_administration___2__Mr_Graham_Ellis.pdf

https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2020/0036_19_1808.pdf

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