Southsea mum sacked while heavily pregnant accuses Liz Earle Beauty Co of 'arrogance' after 'failure to apologise'

A MUM who was put through a ‘nightmare 18 months’ by a leading beauty company after being sacked while heavily pregnant has blasted them for being ‘arrogant’ after failing to apologise.

Saturday, 18th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 18th January 2020, 10:15 am
Helen Larkin and her children

Helen Larkin, 38, won her claim of maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal against Liz Earle Beauty Company at Southampton Tribunal Court last week – leaving the company having to fork out over £17,000.

But despite the David versus Goliath victory, leaving Mrs Larkin ‘happy to show people it can be done’ after taking on the might of the company by herself, Liz Earle Beauty Co had failed to offer an apology to the mum-of-two.

The expectant Southsea mum was dismissed just before her legally protected period of maternity began when she was eight months pregnant in June 2018 under ‘restructuring plans’ which Mrs Larkin told the tribunal ‘cast a shadow over’ the birth of her daughter Alice.

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‘What should have been a time of celebration was taken from me,’ she said. ‘I was scared, embarrassed, isolated and felt the joy had been sucked out of my impending birth.’

Mrs Larkin was ‘scared’ for the health of her baby over the impending stress as well as the financial implications of the ruthless decision to oust her.

Speaking following her victory over the Isle of Wight firm, Mrs Larkin said: ‘It has been a very stressful period for 18 months but it is good to have my voice heard – I’m happy I did it and have shown people it can be done.

‘But it has been a difficult time. Apart from unfairly dismissing me from my job just before I was about to give birth they were then difficult to deal with over the tribunal.

‘They were so difficult to get information out of and would conceal details and miss deadlines.

‘The hearing was meant to go ahead in August but because Julie Slaymaker (her former line manager) went on holiday it got delayed until January, causing me further months of stress while having a little baby.’

The company boasted of its ethos of female empowerment but Mrs Larkin said: ‘I’m glad I was able to expose them – no women felt empowered working there. The company was arrogant and thought they were above the law.’

Approached by The News for a response to the verdict, Liz Earle Beauty Co initially failed to offer an apology, with a statement reading: ‘The wellbeing of our people is of the highest importance to us and we always aim to ensure they are treated fairly and that in the event of difficult circumstances, including a restructuring, the appropriate processes are followed.

‘Over the course of the tribunal hearing regarding Ms Larkin’s case it seemed that we fell short of our standards in some areas, which we sincerely regret. We will consider the details, and take learnings from the findings and outcome.’

When pressed the firm subsequently said: ‘We apologise to Ms Larkin as we did fall short of our own standards on this occasion. We have already expressed our regret and that we will be taking learnings.’

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But Mrs Larkin felt the response was just further proof of Liz Earle Beauty Co’s approach. ‘I don’t accept that as an apology,’ she said. ‘Being discriminated against on term of pregnancy is a lot more than “falling short of standards”.

‘They are not admitting wrongdoing despite the evidence and ruling. I lost my role there and it had huge implications both professionally and personally for me and all of it was due to them allowing someone to discriminate against me.

‘I received no protection from HR or the organisation. So in essence that does not count as an apology.’

Mrs Larkin revealed that Female rights group, Pregnant then Screwed, is currently liaising with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan over the possibility of raising issues from the case in parliament.