Community nurse wins appeal after being sacked for not working weekends

Following that judgement, her case will now be reconsidered by the original employment tribunal.

Clare Bodell
25 June 2021
community nurse

Previously working fixed days, the nurse was told she now had to work weekends.

A community nurse in Cumbria has won a landmark case after being dismissed by her employer for not being able to work weekends.

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Gemma Dobson worked fixed days for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust in order to take care of her three children, two of whom are disabled.

As part of a 2016 review, the trust sought to introduce flexible working for employees and a requirement for community nurses to work some weekends.

Since Ms Dobson had childcare responsibilities, her law firm says it was impossible for her to meet this requirement; as a result, she was later dismissed from her role.

Ms Dobson decided to take her claim to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination.

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Although an initial ruling said it found no evidence of discrimination, a subsequent appeal accepted that women bear the greater burden of childcare responsibilities than men and that that can limit their ability to work certain hours – setting a new precedent.

Following that judgement, her case will now be reconsidered by the original employment tribunal.

Treated unfairly.

Ms Dobson said; “I am totally delighted with the outcome of the appeal after my utter disbelief at the outcome of the original tribunal.

“I have continued to seek justice for over 4 years now for how unfairly I was treated with continued support from my husband. I am so grateful for all of the help and support I have received in my quest for justice.

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Lawyers involved in the case say the ruling is likely to have an impact on other cases going forward.

Slater and Gordon employment lawyer, Doreen Reeves, commented on the result; “It’s established in law that there is a ‘childcare disparity’ as women are more likely to take the lion share of caring for children.

“Working mothers should not be tasked to prove this assumption time and time again when they bring employment tribunal claims.

“This important landmark decision gives a clear warning, working mothers with caring responsibilities should not be penalised if they are not able to work flexibly to meet business needs or demands of a service.”

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust have said they are unable to comment on an ongoing tribunal.

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