I was asked to apply for another role internally, before I had announced my pregnancy

I was asked to apply for another role internally, before I had announced my pregnancy. As the role interested me I applied and had a telephone interview and then attended an assessment centre and formal interview (after I had made my employer aware of my pregnancy).

Unfortunately I was not successful.  When I was given verbal feedback on my application (I haven’t had anything in writing), I was advised I had hit benchmark on the assessments and interviewed well and had plenty of relevant customer service experience. The reason they gave me for not offering me the job was that they felt I did not have enough relevant industry or sales experience. I fully believe this was an excuse because I am pregnant, as they could train me on the product, as they have done with other employees who don’t come from an automotive background and they kept reiterating that the role was not a hard sales role. If having sales experience was a requirement why did they put me through to the next stage of the process?!

They have since employed two other people to do this role, who have less experience than I do. I’ve spoken to them both about their employment history and seen their CVs. I therefore believe the company were making excuses and did not employ me because I am pregnant and would be leaving for maternity leave a matter of months after the newly formed roles were created. Unfortunately I cannot easily prove discrimination, as I would be more than happy to pursue this further.  

Also I am currently on a fixed term contract (of 1 year covering someone else’s maternity leave), this contract is due to finish 2 weeks after I start my maternity leave. I requested a letter / written statement for the reasons for not renewing my contract. The response I received was:

“As detailed in your offer of employment letter, your contract is maternity cover. The individual has returned to the role you have been providing maternity cover for and so your contract will come to an end on 16th June 2015 – as discussed during your initial interview and as detailed in your contract of employment.

As promised, we have offered you the opportunity to apply for any other suitable vacancies within the business, one of which you have been considered and assessed for. However, unfortunately you were unsuccessful as you did not meet the required benchmark and you were given feedback on this. As discussed, if there are any other vacancies that you would like to be considered for please do not hesitate to put forward your application.”

Needless to say this response is still sat in my inbox whilst I contemplate how to proceed, as they have not given me an exact and fair reason for dismissal – I believe it would fall under redundancy.  

Also two other points: 1) I did hit benchmark for the assessments,  it was so called experience that prevented me from receiving a job offer and 2) The lady that has returned from maternity leave has gone from working 5 to 3 days a week and my other colleague has reduced her hours from 5 to 4 days a week.  Yet the work volume has remained the same if not increased; therefore there is plenty of work for them to offer me a permanent position.

Luckily for me I am entitled to SMP, so they would have nothing to loose by offering me a permanent (full or part-time position).  There has been talk of asking another part time employee helping out in the department once I have left, whether that is on a permanent bases or covering holiday I do not know. I am waiting with bated breath to see if the role is advertised in the near future, I am hoping it is as I would then have a case to pursue as if there is work they should be offering to extend my contract / make it permanent.