19/06/2012 14:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Mum Wins £18,000 Compensation: Bombarded With Work Emails After C-Section And Branded 'Unsupportive' For Not Replying

New mum Michelle Stone awarded £18,000 North News

A new mum recovering in hospital after giving birth by Caesarean was bombarded with work emails – from the woman who was covering her maternity leave!

And incredibly, her temporary replacement COMPLAINED about mum Michelle Stone being 'unsupportive' when she stopped responding after her baby became ill.

Now Michelle has been awarded £18,000 by a tribunal following the bombardment of work-related queries.

The tribunal heard that Michelle, general manager of Winfield Hospital in Gloucestershire, was still in her hospital bed taking painkillers when she began receiving emails demanding her views on a complicated restructuring programme.

For four weeks she was continually sent 'insensitive' work emails by her maternity cover Tania Terblanche, who was paid to carry out her duties in her absence at Ramsay Health Care UK.

But when Michelle stopped checking her email after her baby developed a serious illness, Ms Terblanche made a formal complaint about her for being 'unsupportive', the tribunal heard.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the first email, sent on February 10 2010, read: "Hi Michelle, I think you should give me your views on the email below. Do you have any suggestions? Your feedback would be much appreciated. Regards Tania."

Two days later when Michelle failed to respond Ms Terblanche's PA phoned asking her to deal with the query. Michelle – who had worked for the company for 15 years - was also branded 'unprofessional' for taking her full maternity leave entitlement, a decision which caused her boss to go 'ballistic'.

The tribunal in Somerset heard Michelle became pregnant in 2009. She gave birth by Caesarean after developing Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), a complication causing pain and mobility problems.

Employment judges awarded Michelle, of Gloucestershire, the pay-out after finding she had been subjected to sustained discrimination because of her pregnancy.

The panel ruled the timing of the email was 'extraordinary', adding: "Helen White [Mrs Stone's manager] could see from the string of emails that Ms Terblanche had emailed the claimant to ask for her views and advice on something relatively complicated two days after her caesarean section and yet she took no steps to ensure that the claimant was comfortable with this level of contact."


Michelle was then bombarded for four weeks with further emails until she was forced to stop replying when her baby developed a serious illness.


Ms Terblanche then made a formal complaint, saying: "I have known Michelle for many years and have always had a lot of respect for her. Unfortunately I don't have this view any longer."

The tribunal was also told that when Michelle notified the hospital she would be taking her full maternity leave entitlement, Ms Terblanche said it was "ridiculous for a woman to take 12 months' maternity leave."

Giving evidence, Michelle said a colleague revealed her manager had 'gone ballistic' when told she would be taking 12 months leave.

Another manager in the company had taken just two months for fear of being viewed as unprofessional by her bosses, the tribunal was told.

When Michelle brought her own grievance against the company for the way she had been treated whilst on maternity leave, it was dismissed out of hand and she was denied an appeal. She resigned.

Awarding Michelle a compensation payment of £18,000, the panel ruled that the discrimination she faced was "sustained over a long period of time, affects the claimant at a time when she is particularly vulnerable emotionally and is undermining of the claimant's ability to have confidence in her position both as a mother and as a senior manager."

They added: "There has been an abject failure to protect the claimant from the pregnancy and maternity discrimination that she suffered.

"We find that the respondent organisation is one within which a view was tolerated that it was considered unprofessional for senior managers to take more than ordinary maternity leave."

Were you bombarded with work emails on maternity leave? Did you take full maternity leave or feel under pressure from work to return sooner?