Pregnant woman labelled ’emotional’ at work says tribunal win was ‘bittersweet’

Nicola Hinds from Doncaster says she was labelled as “hormonal” at work during her pregnancy.
Pregnant woman labelled 'emotional' at work says tribunal win was 'bittersweet'
Nicola HindsHandout

A woman who won a work tribunal after her manager described her as “emotional and tearful” during her pregnancy has said the ruling felt “bittersweet”.

Nicola Hinds, 37 and from Doncaster, said she felt “ignored” and was portrayed as “hormonal” while employed at facilities management company Mitie.

In February, a judge ruled Ms Hinds had been discriminated against and was unfairly constructively dismissed.

Mitie told the BBC it could not comment on individual legal cases.

Ms Hinds said she had enjoyed a great career at Mitie, which provides services such as security for many national organisations, including the BBC.

However, when she shared the news of her pregnancy in April 2020, attitudes “shifted” and she was “heavily encouraged” to take on a more administrative role now that her circumstances had changed.

Ms Hinds, who was a senior regional manager, said later that year she noticed her workload was increasing and she was working longer hours “than ever before”.

Attempts to raise her concerns with line managers were “ignored”, she said, and she experienced several panic attacks.

‘Wanted her out of the way’

In an email shown to the employment tribunal, her manager, Nav Kalley, wrote: “I was expecting this email as Nicola has become very emotional and tearful especially over the last week or so.

“I am very frustrated with this as she is certainly not overworked and we have been very supportive in helping her manage her workload.”

He added that the matter had to be dealt with “sensitively” and that he wanted to try and support Ms Hinds “as much as I can”.

The tribunal said Mr Kalley had been “stereotyping” Ms Hinds as an “emotional, hormonal pregnant woman” and had wanted to be seen as supportive when “he effectively wanted her out of the way as soon as possible”.

The ruling read: “The inference was that she was not fully in control of her emotions because of the pregnancy and that she was making unreasonable demands as a result, when in fact she was experiencing significant work-related stress in the advanced stages of her pregnancy, had suffered two panic attacks in short succession, felt overwhelmed, was worried about letting others down but equally concerned that she might become seriously unwell.”

‘Like a huge inconvenience’

Ms Hinds said the language her manager used to describe her was “hurtful.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour on Thursday, she said: “Yes, I was pregnant but the hormones or the emotional feelings that I was going through at the time were not because I was a pregnant woman but because I was an exhausted employee.”

Ms Hinds said the problems continued during her maternity leave and she was made to feel “like a huge inconvenience” when she did eventually return to work.

Ms Hinds said further issues and the way she was being treated led to her constructive dismissal, which is when an employee is forced to leave their job against their will due to their employer’s conduct.

“I just felt that I could no longer work for a company that was continuously making me feel like I was an inconvenience,” Ms Hinds said.

“It felt like they were trying their hardest to change everything around me to make me feel uncomfortable.”

‘No jumping up and down in celebration’

In February this year, employment judge Roger Tynan ruled that Ms Hinds was unfairly constructively dismissed and had been discriminated against.

Ms Hinds, who represented herself during the proceedings, is now in line for compensation.

The mother-of-two said while the result was what she had hoped for, hearing it had felt “bittersweet”.

“There was no moment of fist-punching the air, there was no jumping up and down in celebration,” she said.

“I felt sad that I had to go through this process and that it had taken such a long time just to get acknowledgement that what I had suffered was what I had suffered.”

She now hopes her case will inspire other employers to scrutinise their own policies and leaders.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

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