Landlord denies discrimination claims at tribunal
A housing association involved in an employment tribunal has strongly denied discriminating against a member of staff who was on maternity leave.
Senior members of staff from One Housing Group’s development team told the tribunal judges that the individual involved, Seble Alemu, was not passed over for promotion because she was on maternity leave, but because there was a stronger candidate.
Ms Alemu claims she was not given ‘complex’ projects and missed out on a role which was awarded to someone else, without it being advertised.
She unsuccessfully applied for a promotion while on maternity leave. The man who got the job was subsequently given a more senior role, and Ms Alemu claims another man was then given the role she had applied for, without interview.
Alan Williams, development director at One Housing Group, said he had met with Ms Alemu to allay fears she had about missing out on the job: ‘There was some concern that there was a preferred candidate and I stated to the individual [Ms Alemu] that this was not the case.’
Mr Williams added: ‘It is not unheard of that people apply for one job and then there is another job that they are capable for and you give them that.’
Julie De Senneville, assistant director of the development team at One Housing Group, said she phoned Ms Alemu eight months before the end of her statutory maternity leave to see what her plans were for returning to work.
She said she made the phone call because the senior management team were ‘discussing how we resourced the department in order to deliver the corporate plan’.
‘I phoned her because I wanted to make sure I had enough staff to fit my budget,’ Ms De Senneville added.
Ms Alemu told the tribunal earlier this week that she was denied job opportunities because of her sex: ‘The male team members have been given complex projects almost from the start. But women in the team have been held back,’ she said.