An estate agent has won a sex discrimination case against her employers after her boss refused her request to work part-time. Alice Thompson, a sales manager of an estate agency in London, informed an employment tribunal that she was required to work until 6pm, but asked to go part-time so she could work four days a week and finish at 5pm instead. Her request was made so that she could attend to childcare arrangements and pick up her daughter from nursery, which closed at 6pm.

It was heard that the company director rejected her request on the basis that the business could not afford for her to work part-time. The director also cited detrimental effects on the ability to meet customer demand and an inability to reorganise work among existing staff as reasons for declining her request.

Thompson resigned while on maternity leave and brought a claim against the London agency for sex discrimination. The tribunal heard that Thompson had been successful at the agency, earning around £120,000 a year in salary but has struggled to find another job since leaving.

The panel, headed by Employment Judge Sarah Jane Goodman, agreed that she had been discriminated against by her employers as a result of them refusing her flexible working request. The panel declared: “Mrs Thompson resented that flexible working appeared not to be considered properly, and felt that this was an injustice because of her sex, which it was.”

The panel awarded her £184,961.32 for loss of earnings, pension contributions, injury to feelings and interest, finding that the company’s insistence on a 6pm finish placed her at a ‘disadvantage’.

Flexible Working: An Employee’s Rights

All employees who have been with a firm for at least 26 weeks have the right to make a flexible working request. If an employee makes such a request, their employer must consider if fairly and make a decision within a maximum of three months.

If you are an employer and you require advice and/or assistance about flexible working requests and/or employee grievances or workplace disputes, please contact us on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry by email.

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