A tribunal found Frankie Kite was treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy related illness (Picture: Getty Images)
A B&Q manager who suffered from a severe pregnancy condition has won a discrimination case after her dismissive boss complained that ‘she is always sick’.
Frankie Kite’s extreme morning sickness ‘frustrated’ newly-appointed unit manager Adrian Barnett.
He felt it was an ‘impediment’ to his work at the store and moaned about her absences.
He repeatedly denied Ms Kite’s requests not to work late shifts, at a time when the symptoms of her Hyperemesis Gravidarum worsened.
Despite scoring the highest marks in career progression reviews, Mr Barnett didn’t encourage her to apply for a senior role as he didn’t think it was suitable due to her pregnancy.
Now Ms Kite, who worked at B&Q in Witney, Oxon, is in line for compensation after successfully suing the DIY giant for unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and unfair dismissal.
An employment tribunal in Reading, Berkshire, heard Ms Kite was an ‘ambitious’ trading manager who was ‘poised for a move to a more senior position’ in 2018..
Ms Kite was told by her boss at B&Q that she was ‘not such a high performer’, despite knowing of her condition – File image (Picture: PA)
At that time, she became pregnant with her daughter and began suffering severely from Hyperemesis Gravidarum – which mum-of-three Kate Middleton also suffered during pregnancies.
The condition causes weight loss and leaves expectant mothers severely nauseous, exhausted and dehydrated. In the Duchess of Cambridge’s case, she had to be admitted to hospital.
The tribunal heard Mr Barnett was appointed at the store to improve its success and that Ms Kite had significant absences due to her condition.
Mr Barnett quickly formed the view Ms Kite was ‘not such a high performer’, despite being aware of her disorder.
When she enquired about a senior role at another store after her maternity leave, her manager said she would have to ‘prove herself’ first.
In August 2018, Ms Kite was vomiting at work and nauseous so asked Mr Barnett if she could leave.
He replied ‘what will you do differently at home rather than here?’ and ‘made her uncomfortable’ about asking to leave early, the tribunal heard.
Ms Kite said she felt that she had no choice but to work late shifts, despite feeling so unwell.
She told how on September 8 she was on the late shift and was struggling with severe nausea and sickness throughout the day.
‘When I told Adrian about this, he was unsympathetic and dismissed my comments by saying “oh are you?”,’ Ms Kite told the tribunal.
‘Two of my colleague were concerned enough to approach Adrian but he responded by saying “but she is always sick at the moment”.
Ms Kite’s requests were finally granted when she produced a doctor’s note.
She then raised a grievance, but an investigation carried out by unit manager Jeff Henderson concluded: ‘I think we have supported [her pregnancy] in the best possible way.’
Employment Judge Laurie Anstis said: ‘The impression we have formed from the evidence is that Mr Barnett saw her ongoing pregnancy-related illness as an impediment to his attempts to restore the store to good performance.”
‘Mr Barnett was impatient for the store to be brought to success, and gave little or no thought to the difficulties that Ms Kite may be having.
‘He treated her unfavourably because of her pregnancy related illness and absences.’
Ms Kite gave birth in December 2018 and in 2019 resigned then started her own business with a friend. A hearing to determine compensation will be held at a later date.
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