BT deny sacking pregnant worker

BOSSES at British Telecom have denied sacking a worker after she became pregnant – but admitted they could have handled things better. Franca Okoye, 35, of Lotus Close, Ipswich, left the company in June last year claiming her employers at Adastral Park, Martlesham, sexually discriminated against her.

BOSSES at British Telecom have denied sacking a worker after she became pregnant – but admitted they could have handled things better.

Franca Okoye, 35, of Lotus Close, Ipswich, left the company in June last year claiming her employers at Adastral Park, Martlesham, sexually discriminated against her.

But, during an employment tribunal at Bury St Edmunds yesterday , the company denied the allegations that staff had been sexist towards Mrs Okoye who also claimed she had been moved from "pillar to post" after she returned to work.

In summing up their defence, company representative Hilary Harding said: "It has been accepted by BT that on her return to work, we failed to immediately find Mrs Okoye a suitable alternative role but we dispute the rest of the case.

"Mrs Okoye failed to mention the sexist comments when she wrote to her union representative about her concerns.

"She also did not mention the comments when writing to BT or when she wrote with her first stage grievance letter. We would say this is because the comments were not made."

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Mrs Okoye had previously told the tribunal, she had previously been seen as a valued member of staff who had recently received a big pay rise.

She told the tribunal she was expected to learn new skills as she was moved around various jobs. This caused her to develop stress and a doctor eventually signed her off work for six months as a result.

She returned in July 2002 but was still unable to take up her old job, which she had held before her maternity leave.

The mother-of-four worked up until two weeks before giving birth in September 2001 and claimed she was forced to go for an interview for a new position when she returned three months later.

She was eventually resigned because of deteriorating health in June 2003.

A decision was deferred yesterdayand it will be announced later.

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