According to a report in Work Place Law, a lawyer who claims that her employers forced her out of work because she was pregnant has won a claim for sexual discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal in Exeter ruled in favour of Susan Heale, 39, after hearing that she struggled to move in an office that was too small to work in while pregnant, and was pressured into coming to work despite suffering from morning sickness.

Heale accused Thornley's solicitors in Plymouth of sexually discriminating against her because she fell pregnant, claiming that her boss's attitude towards her changed and she was eventually forced to resign from her job for the health of her unborn twins.

She told the Tribunal that she had been offered a partnership the same day that she found out she was pregnant, but was told shortly afterwards that her department was shutting down and she could be made redundant if she opted for the full six months of maternity leave.

According to Heale, Tony Pearce, 51, the managing partner at Thornley's, told her that having children would negatively affect her career. Pearce denied all claims against him and insisted that he had placed no pressure on Ms Heale regarding her maternity leave or coming into work with morning sickness.

However, the tribunal ruled that there had been inconsistencies in the evidence he had given, and may now award Heale compensation of up to £100,000.

Heale says: "I had the distinct feeling of being pushed out of the firm with the only tangible change of circumstances being I had announced I was pregnant. My office was unbearably hot and I felt I was going to pass out. I wanted to elevate my feet because of the swelling but was unable to do so because of the constraints of the room.
"I believe this has cost me my career, it has certainly caused untold stress and hardship over the last 18 months. As a result I have lost precious moments with my boys in the first year of their lives. There is no compensation for that."

13 August 2007