The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) recently ruled that the dismissal of an employee with post natal depression on capability grounds did not amount to sex discrimination and/or pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
The dismissal occurred after the ‘protected period’ (which is the period between the beginning of the pregnancy and the end of maternity leave) and as such could be no pregnancy and maternity discrimination and the illness could be treated the same as any other illness.
Although the case demonstrates the narrow scope for sex discrimination or pregnancy discrimination arguments to be successfully deployed in these circumstances, it is worth recording that the claimant was held to be unfairly dismissed in this case. It is also quite possible that in similar circumstances, a claimant might have a valid claim for disability discrimination. Post-natal depression after maternity leave is clearly a difficult situation for employers to grapple with and nothing in this judgment changes the basic proposition that such circumstances require to be dealt with sensitively and with awareness of the full range of protections available.
The full case summary can be found here.