Solicitor who lost her baby after being dismissed wins £30,000 compensation

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A solicitor who said the stress of being dismissed from her job contributed to the death of her baby won £30,000 compensation yesterday after a tribunal upheld her claim for sexual discrimination.

Harriet Davies-Taheri's baby died a few hours after being born 23 weeks premature and eight days after she was sacked by Sheffield law firm, Proddow Mackay.

In March an employment tribunal ruled that the 32-year-old lawyer had been unlawfully dismissed and sexually discriminated against.

The tribunal rejected claims by her former employers that she had been sacked because of misconduct, and accused the firm of "unacceptable conduct" after hearing she was told of her dismissal as she lay ill in hospital.

Speaking after the hearing yesterday Mrs Davies-Taheri said she felt vindicated. "It's really, really important - I can't emphasise that enough," she said. "It was a great risk for me to go to court to do this, but it was well worth it. It was justice - which is what I wanted."

She claimed that the stress and anxiety of her workload had brought about a life-threatening illness which led directly to the infant's death. During the hearing Proddow Mackay said medical evidence did not support those claims.

Mrs Davies-Taheri had worked for Proddow Mackay for three years before she was suspended last April, a month after informing them she was expecting her first child.

She told the hearing that the grounds given for her suspension were that she had not carried out her work properly and failed to supervise her team.

In her evidence to the tribunal she said: "I was shaking with shock. I had nearly had a miscarriage a few weeks before, and this firm ordered me off the premises without even a taxi."

The company sacked her by letter in July last year, eight days before doctors had to induce the birth.

Mrs Davies-Taheri, who lives with her husband Easa, an engineer, in Sheffield, said: "I firmly believe that had I not been pregnant the errors made by me and members of my team would not have resulted in my suspension and then dismissal for gross misconduct.

"I was not made aware of any problems with my work before my suspension. I believe that the pregnancy was the trigger for the disciplinary action."

She accused Proddow Mackay of causing her anxiety and stress that led to high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, resulting in her being put on a life-support machine.

Mrs Davies-Taheri added: "My healthy child died as a result of this illness. I have to live with this for the rest of my life."