City worker had performance downgraded when she took maternity leave

Female City tech manager wins £12,000 payout after bosses downgraded her job performance because she was on maternity leave

  • Diana Ledkova took discrimination claim against firm Traiana to London tribunal 
  • She returned from maternity leave and was given a lower performance rating
  • She also found some of her duties had been handed over to a male colleague
  • East London tribunal ruled she had been a victim of ‘unfavourable treatment’ 

A female manager at a City tech company has been awarded more than £12,000 in compensation after her job performance was downgraded because she took maternity leave. 

Diana Ledkova took a discrimination claim to an east London tribunal after she returned to work in November 2019 and two months later was appraised as having ‘met all or most expectations’ for the year. 

She complained that the annual review was unfair because in September 2018, two months before she went away, she had been rated as ‘exceeding expectations’.   

Ms Ledkova was also dismayed to find some of her duties had been handed to a male colleague without discussion and that she had been effectively ‘demoted’ as she was now listed as reporting to him. 

She was awarded £12,597.83 in compensation this week after a panel at the tribunal ruled she had been the victim of ‘unfavourable treatment’.

The tribunal heard Ms Ledkova had joined City financial tech firm Traiana as a Project Manager in 2014.

Diana Ledkova (pictured) took a discrimination claim to an east London tribunal after she returned to work in November 2019 to find her job performance had been downgraded 

Ms Ledkova was also dismayed to find some of her duties had been handed to her male colleague Errol McKenzie (pictured ) without discussion and that she had been effectively ‘demoted’

She was promoted after four years to lead a team of three employees in project managing key clients, before taking maternity leave in November 2018.  

Instead of recruiting cover it was agreed her line management responsibilities would be taken on by an existing colleague, and Mrs Ledkova provided ‘comprehensive handout documents’ to assist them.

However, the same day Ms Ledkova left on maternity leave, Traiana Limited was bought by American company The CME Group.

She was informed by an HR advisor that under the new ownership she would be employed going forward in the Global Operations Division, reporting to a Mr Errol McKenzie.

The tribunal heard plans were discussed concerning her team whilst she was still away, without her ‘consultation’ or ‘input’.

It was told: ‘Specifically, the plan did not record that [Mrs Ledkova] would return to managing her team.

‘There was no discussion about any changes to [Mrs Ledkova]’s role when she would return during this time.’

Ms Ledkova returned to work in November 2019 and was given an annual performance review two months later.

She was appraised by her line manager as ‘meets all or most expectations’ – a downgrade from her previous rating of ‘exceeds expectations’, the tribunal heard.

Mrs Ledkova challenged the rating, asking for it to be raised back up to her previous appraisal standing.

Later that month she also discovered she was now shown to be reporting to the employee who had taken on her line management duties.

The tribunal was told: ‘Ms Ledkova was upset by this and complained… By this point [she] believed she had been overlooked whilst she was on maternity leave.

‘(She) requested her pre-maternity position to be restored in terms of reporting to Mr McKenzie and managing her team.

‘Whilst [her] grade and salary had not changed, Mrs Ledkova reasonably perceived what had happened to be a demotion in operational status.’

Mrs Ledkova filed a formal grievance against her employer but was ‘not content’ with the outcome.

Despite being appointed the role of Team Manager in June 2020 – which was similar to her pre-maternity leave role – she pursued her employment tribunal claims.

Though her claims of sex discrimination and unlawful victimisation failed, the tribunal ruled Traiana Limited had discriminated against Mrs Ledkova ‘by reason of her taking maternity leave’.

Ms Ledkova (pictured) has been awarded £12,597.83 in compensation after a panel at the tribunal ruled she had been the victim of ‘unfavourable treatment’

In its judgement, the tribunal said: ‘Mrs Ledkova’s maternity absence undermined her appraisal rating.

‘She was not given a performance evaluation rating in respect of the seven months she worked in 2018 because she was on maternity leave when a performance review was due.

‘[Mrs Ledkova] had completed her side of the performance review before going on maternity leave.

‘[She] did not receive an appraisal in January 2019 for the 2018 year. This was because she was on maternity leave.

‘Mrs Ledkova was not able to maintain her record of exceeds expectation appraisals and her 7 months work for 2018 was marked.

‘This is therefore of unfavourable treatment because she was on maternity leave.

‘The decision to remove her team (or not return them to her) [also] amounted to unfavourable treatment because she was on maternity leave.’

She was awarded £12,597.83 in compensation for injury to feelings and other costs. 

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