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Woman wins sex discrimination claim in flexible working case

A woman has won her claim of sex discrimination against an airline that refused her request for flexible working after she returned from maternity leave.

Emma Seville worked full time for Flybe as a cabin crew member for 13 years. Her rota was flexible, which meant she could work any 22 days of each month.

When she returned from maternity leave, she asked to work on a fixed pre-arranged rota of 11 days a month because she was having difficulties arranging child care.

The company rejected her request for flexible working or job sharing. Ms Seville told the Birmingham Mail: “They point-blank refused. They told me that a significant part of the workforce was already on fixed hours and they couldn’t get any more people in that pot because it would have a detrimental effect on the business.

“You would be waiting for the rotas, anxiously holding your breath to see what you would be getting. I felt let down. I felt I had given 13 years’ service. My individual situation and my loyalty were not taken into consideration.”

The Employment Tribunal upheld her claim of sex discrimination. Judge Lynne Findlay said that cabin crew working at the airline were mainly women of child bearing age. She said: “This placed women at a disadvantage compared with men.”

A spokesman for Flybe told the Mail: “Flybe respects the decision of the Tribunal and will be reviewing Ms Seville’s situation in light of the Tribunal’s findings.”

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