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Pregnancy discrimination: Nursery supervisor seeks dismissal damages

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A former Inverness nursery school supervisor has commenced legal action for unfair dismissal and sex / pregnancy discrimination.

Rosemary McCallum, 28, began working at Les Enfants Nurseries in January 2009 and looked after two to three-year-olds. After a few months, she was promoted to room supervisor and assumed responsibility for managing around five staff members.

Shortly after this, she became pregnant and went on sick leave for a week.

When she returned to the nursery, the company handed her a letter containing four statements from anonymous members of staff criticising her performance and inviting her to a disciplinary hearing.

One of the statements read: "There was a terrible atmosphere in the room. Everyone was working against each other."

Ms McCallum disputes this. "I believed I was getting on fine," she told the tribunal. "The staff all said they were happy and I had a good rapport with them."

Nursery management must have pressurised staff into making the statements, she added.

At the disciplinary hearing, assistant manager Shona MacKenzie told her there had been an inspection of her toddler room while she was away on sick leave.

The inspection found the room to be a "disaster", with equipment and toys stored away instead of being made available for children to play with.

Ms McCallum said: "I had said I was pregnant, went off sick and when I came back I was hit with all this.

"All that had changed was that I was pregnant."

Following the hearing, the nursery sent her a letter dated August 18 immediately terminating her contract for gross misconduct.

"There was significant disquiet and unhappiness among members of staff supervised by you," the letter stated.

"Your behaviour ranged from being disinterested to bullying from which the morale of staff has suffered and some of the children may have suffered as a result of your attitude."

Ms McCallum disputes these claims. "I felt absolutely trampled on. All my ability to trust people and judge people was questioned. People who worked in a nursery, and who in my mind were supposed to care, had turned on me in an instant."

Les Enfants Nurseries denies pregnancy discrimination and says the fact that Ms McCallum was pregnant had nothing to do with her dismissal.

The tribunal hearing continues.

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