In the case of Little v Richmond Pharmacology Limited, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that an employee had not suffered indirect sex discrimination when her employer refused her initial request to work flexibly. The employer’s decision was overturned on appeal, albeit on a trial basis, before her return to work from maternity leave.

What does the ruling mean? In this case the employee had not suffered a disadvantage or detriment because her part-time working request had, eventually, been granted. At the time of making the request, the employee was still on maternity leave and had not returned to work when the internal appeal was allowed; these were crucial facts because the appeal remedied any detriment she would have suffered as a result of the initial decision before she actually returned to work. Had the timings been different, the decision may have fallen in the employee’s favour.

What action should employers take? If, as an employer, you are concerned that a member of staff has been discriminated against you should obtain legal advice to see if matters can be resolved before they escalate.