Daughter says her father's firm caused miscarriage in sex discrimination claim

A welder resumed her claim yesterday that she suffered sexual discrimination at her family's firm that caused her to have a miscarriage.

Suzanne Bunning began an appeal against an employment tribunal's decision last year to reject her contention of sexual discrimination and con-structive dismissal from the agricultural equipment manufacturer, GT Bunning.

Ms Bunning, 28, resigned from the Norfolk firm on 5 December 2001, a fortnight after suffering a miscarriage that she claims was brought on by the stress of having to carry on doing heavy work.

Miss Bunning, eight months pregnant with a second child, told the appeal panel in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, how tensions rose with her father, John, uncle Robin and aunt Doreen, who run the business in Gressenhall, after she became pregnant in September 2001.

She insisted she would be unable to continue welding because of the heavy lifting work involved even though a risk assessment had stated it was safe to do so. Despite pleas to her family, she was told to return to the workshop.

Miss Bunning, who is being represented by her partner, Tom Fletcher, 40, an accountant, said she had been "totally horrified" by their decision. "They were ordering me back without any concern for my fears. This was when I definitely knew the company could not be trusted with the health of my unborn baby," she said.

Miss Bunning, who has moved to Llanfyllin, Powys, said she had one of her ovaries removed when cysts developed after the miscarriage, and had been treated for depression.

Eventually, the firm found her a job in the stores but she claims she was working 12-hour days, continuing to lift objects with no chair.

She was one of eight welders in the workshop, and said the company, in effect, cut her off after her miscarriage.

"I certainly expected ... some show of sympathy and consideration on the part of the company but it became very clear after I returned home that no one from Bunning wished to have any contact with me at all," she said.

Mr Fletcher also gave evidence to the appeal in which he accused Bunning of having a "flippant" attitude towards health and safety issues.

The hearing was told Miss Bunning was one of the firm's most highly qualified welders. She had gained City and Guilds qualifications and started her career with a company in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

The appeal continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?