Sunday, 19 May 2013

Trainee lawyer was denied permanent contract when she became pregnant

33-year-old wins case against top City law firm, but her counsel warns of many similar cases

Picture of pregnant woman cropped to hide face
   Solicitor Nigel Mackay said that though equal numbers of male and
    female law students take up places at City firms, women are still failing
    to progress.

A trainee lawyer is in line for compensation from a top City law firm after winning her case for discrimination after she missed out on a job because she was pregnant.
An employment tribunal found that law firm Travers Smith denied Katie Tantum, 33, a permanent job because she became pregnant in the final stages of her £42,000-a-year contract.
A hearing will be held in June to determine what level of compensation Tantum, who is the daughter of a former MI6 Middle East director, should receive.
Nigel Mackay, who represented the Cambridge graduate for law firm Leigh Day, said: "We are delighted for Katie. It takes courage and tremendous resilience to stand up to your employer, even more so when that employer is a leading City law firm and you are only just embarking on your legal career.
"The evidence in this case was very clear – Katie's level of performance meant that she would have been offered a permanent role at Travers Smith but she was denied that role because she was pregnant."
The case was heard at the Central London Employment Tribunal in February, and the ruling sent out on Friday. Mackay said that Travers Smith, which specialises in corporate, financial and commercial law, was not alone in its attitude.
"Despite there being equal numbers of female and male law students taking up training places at City firms, women are still failing to progress to senior roles in anything like the numbers of their male colleagues," he said.
A spokesman for Travers Smith said: "We really did not expect this decision at all. We are very surprised and disappointed by it
"Throughout the proceedings, we thought our evidence was strong. We still believe that, although the employment tribunal has found otherwise on one aspect of this claim.
"We sincerely regret that one of our former trainees was left unhappy from her experience at the firm, and we will take on board the lessons to be learned."