A B&Q manager has won a discrimination case after an ‘unsympathetic’ manager dismissed her extreme morning sickness, saying ‘she is always sick’. 

Frankie Kite was in the exact same pregnancy situation as the Duchess. She is currently seeking compensation from the DIY company for illegal pregnancy, maternity discrimination, and unfair dismissal.  

An employment tribunal in Reading heard that Mrs Kite’s sickness ‘frustrated’ newly appointed unit manager Adrian Barnett who felt it was an ‘impediment’ to his work at the store.

Mister Barnett groaned at Mrs Kite’s absences, and denied repeatedly Mrs Kite’s request to not work late hours in the Witney store. 

This was when her Hyperemesis Gravidarum started to worsen and she began feeling nauseous.

Frankie Kite has successfully sued the British DIY giant for unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal

Frankie Kite has successfully sued the British DIY giant for unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal

Employment Judge Laurie Anstis said B&Q unit manager Adrian Barnett had a 'pattern' of 'being frustrated by the difficulties of Mrs Kite's pregnancy-related illness'

Employment Judge Laurie Anstis said B&Q unit manager Adrian Barnett had a ‘pattern’ of ‘being frustrated by the difficulties of Mrs Kite’s pregnancy-related illness’

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: What does it mean?

Morning sickness is common with around 8 out of every 10 pregnant women affected during pregnancy.

This usually happens between weeks 16 and 20, but it may last for longer.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is excessive nausea and vomiting. This condition often requires hospital treatment.

Sometimes they might become very sick and may be unable or unwilling to drink.

Although it isn’t known exactly how many pregnancies get HG, some cases are not reported. It is estimated that about 1 to 3 percent of all 100 women will contract it.

You should contact your doctor or midwife immediately if you feel sick or unable to eat. You may be at risk of becoming dehydrated. Your midwife and doctor will help ensure you receive the correct treatment.

 Source: NHS

Mrs Kite scored the highest marks in B&Q career progression reviews but Mr Barnett didn’t encourage her to apply for a senior position because he didn’t think she was suitable due to her pregnancy. 

According to the tribunal, Mrs Kite was an ambitious trading manager and was “poised to move up to a higher position” in 2018.

She became pregnant and was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This is the same condition that Kate Middleton, mother of three, suffered from during her pregnancies.

Expectant mothers are left feeling severely dehydrated, nauseous, and exhausted. The Duchess had to be admitted in hospital for her case.

It was revealed that Mr Barnett had been appointed to manage the success of the store and that Mrs Kite suffered significant impairments as a result.

Mr Barnett, despite being conscious of Kite’s condition, quickly concluded that Mrs Kite wasn’t so high performing.

Mr Barnett said that she had to prove herself first when she asked about senior roles at another store following her maternity leave.

After Mrs Kite became nauseated at work, Mr Barnett offered to take her home. He asked him what he would do differently at home to make it better than his work environment. He made her feel awkward about asking her to go early.

The tribunal heard her tell that she was forced to work overtime because she didn’t have any other choice.

Mrs Kite explained that Adrian asked me numerous times during August and Sept 2018 if it was possible to do only minimal late shifts as my symptoms are getting worse in the afternoons, evenings.

Mrs Kite, pictured with her husband, gave birth in December 2018 and resigned in 2019 before starting her own business with a friend

Mrs Kite is pictured here with her husband. She gave birth December 2018 but resigned in 2019. In 2019, she began her own business along with a close friend.

“This was something that I have been asking since June 24, 2018, when my return to work meeting. Despite my repeated requests, three late shifts were required during the first week September 2018. Adrian was not allowed to do any.

“On September 8, 2018, Adrian was working the morning shift while I worked the evening shift. I suffered from severe nausea and vomiting throughout the day.

Adrian seemed uninterested in my story and responded by dismissing them.

Adrian was contacted by two of my colleagues who were so concerned that they approached her. He replied, “But she’s always sick at this moment.”

“Due Adrian’s approach and being the only manager/trained first-aid at the store, I couldn’t help but stay at work from 4 to 8pm even though I was not physically fit.

After Mrs Kite got a physician’s note, Mr Barnett eventually granted her request. 

However, she raised a grievance and Jeff Henderson’s ‘inadequate investigation’ concluded that the unit manager had supported her. [her pregnancy]In the most effective way possible.

Also, the tribunal heard that Luke Thorne had told Mrs Kite that she wouldn’t be promoted because of her pregnancy. However, this was not discriminatory as they were close friends. It was simply ‘professional advice.

Laurie Anstis, Employment Judge, stated that Mr Barnett was prone to being frustrated by Mrs Kite’s pregnancies-related illnesses.

Judge Anstis stated: “The evidence suggests that Mr Barnett viewed her pregnancy-related illness in the context of his efforts to return the store to its previous good performance.

“Mr Barnett wanted the store to succeed and didn’t give a damn about the problems that Mrs Kite might be facing.

‘Mr Barnett was conscious of the pregnancy-related illness of Mrs. Barnett from the time he started his unit management career. However, nothing suggests that he ever made accommodations or an allowance until the presentation of the fit note which took place much later.

“He was unfavourable because she had a pregnancy-related illness or absence.

In December 2018, Mrs Kite had her baby. She then resigned and started her business in partnership with a friend.

An hearing will take place to decide compensation at a later time.