A nurse who was fired for refusing to work weekends has won a "landmark" tribunal appeal in what could be a breakthrough for thousands of working moms.
Gemma Dobson, forty, was working as a community nurse in Cumbria, in the U.K, before she was fired for not being able to comply with new shift patterns in 2016.
Her employer, an Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust North Cumbria, was introducing more flexible working at the time, which meant that staff were sometimes required to work off-peak hours - even at the weekends.
Ms. Dobson said to The Mirror that she couldn't commit to flexible working hours because she had children to care for, 2 of whom are disabled.
She was then fired on the grounds that she refused to work her hours, with the NHS trust refusing to take her personal responsibilities into account.
Dobson then decided to take her case to an unemployment tribunal, citing unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination but got nowhere with her case.
Last week her appeal was upheld by the president of the employment appeal tribunal, Mr. Justice Choudhury.
The tribunal judge described the ruling as a "landmark", adding that women's responsibility for childcare should be taken into account in employment cases, especially in her circumstances.
He said that Dobson's tribunal had "erred in not taking judicial notice of the fact that women, because of their childcare responsibilities, were less likely to be able to accommodate certain working patterns than men".
Dobson said yesterday, "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 four years now for how unfairly I was treated, with continued support from my husband."
"Being dismissed by my NHS employer, for not working weekends due to my child-caring responsibilities, was a huge shock. I was so upset, I felt worthless and completely let down by my colleagues and managers," she said, "I have dedicated my entire working life so far to be a kind and caring nurse in the NHS. I continued to work as a nurse part-time, despite having a difficult and challenging family life, in which my daughter requires twenty-four-hour care."
Mohinderpal Sethi QC, who represented Dobson, said: "This is a landmark victory for working mothers everywhere. We sought to show that the claimant was indirectly discriminated against and unfairly dismissed by her employer for being the carer of her two children and are pleased that the president of the appeal tribunal agreed with our submissions."
But the trust didn't exactly apologize for what had happened to Ms. Dobson...
"It is important to note that the appeal tribunal did not find that Ms. Dobson was discriminated against or unfairly dismissed by the trust, which is why the matter will return to the original employment tribunal for further consideration," the trust noted.
The case will now return to the original tribunal, which will reconsider the claims of indirect discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Do you think Ms. Dobson has been treated unfairly?