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City technician wins payout after bosses cut her performance when she took maternity leave

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

Diana Ledkova filed a discrimination claim with an East London tribunal after returning to work in November 2019 and being assessed two months later as ‘met all or most expectations’ for the year.

She complained that the annual review was unjustified because in September 2018, two months before she left, she had been assessed as ‘beyond expectations’.

Ms Ledkova was also stunned to find that some of her duties had been handed over to a male colleague without consultation and that she had in fact been ‘demoted’ as she was now listed as reporting to him.

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

The tribunal learned that Ms Ledkova had joined the city’s financial technology firm Traiana in 2014 as a project manager.

Diana Ledkova (pictured) filed a discrimination claim with an East London tribunal after returning to work in November 2019 and discovering her job performance had been reduced

Ms Ledkova was also stunned to find that some of her duties had been transferred without discussion to her male colleague Errol McKenzie (pictured) and that she had in fact been 'demoted'

Ms Ledkova was also stunned to find that some of her duties had been transferred without discussion to her male colleague Errol McKenzie (pictured) and that she had in fact been ‘demoted’

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

Rather than run for cover, it was agreed that her line management responsibilities would be taken over by an existing colleague, and Ms Ledkova provided “comprehensive handout documents” to assist them.

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

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

The tribunal heard plans regarding her team were being discussed while she was still gone, without her ‘consultation’ or ‘input’.

Was told ‘Specifically, the plan didn’t register that’ [Mrs Ledkova] would return to managing her team.

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

Ms Ledkova returned to work in November 2019 and received an annual performance appraisal two months later.

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

Ms. Ledkova contested the rating and requested that it be returned to her previous rating status.

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

The tribunal was told: ‘Mrs. Ledkova was upset by this and complained… At this point’ [she] believed she had been overlooked while on maternity leave.

‘(She) requested reinstatement of her pre-pregnancy position in terms of reporting to Mr McKenzie and directing her team.

‘While [her] hadn’t changed rank and salary, Mrs. Ledkova would have reasonably realized what had happened as a downgrade in operational status.’

Ms Ledkova filed a formal complaint against her employer, but was ‘dissatisfied’ with the outcome, as she had requested Mr McKenzie’s resignation.

Despite being named team manager in June 2020 – which was similar to her pre-maternity leave role – she continued her claims in the labor court.

Although her allegations of gender discrimination and unlawful victimization failed, the tribunal ruled that Traiana Limited had discriminated against Ms Ledkova ‘because she was taking maternity leave’.

Ms Ledkova (pictured) has been awarded £12,597.83 in damages after a tribunal panel ruled she had been the victim of 'unfavorable treatment'

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

In its verdict, the tribunal said: ‘Ms Ledkova’s absence has undermined her assessment score.

She was not given a performance rating for the seven months she worked in 2018 as she was on maternity leave when a performance review was due.

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

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

Ms. Ledkova was unable to keep up with her record of exceeding expectations ratings and her 7-month work for 2018 was marked.

“So this is unfavorable treatment because she was on maternity leave.

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

She was paid £12,597.83 in compensation for hurting feelings and other charges.

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