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Pregnant woman unfairly sacked

A MARKETING executive who was allegedly told that clients would consider her 'a slut' because she was pregnant at the age of 40 won her case for unfair dismissal yesterday.

Vicky Clode, now 42, was expected to receive about pounds 2,000 in compensation from her former employer, the Edinburgh-based engineering company MTS, after an industrial tribunal in Newcastle upon Tyne awarded in her favour.

However, her case was won on a technicality; the tribunal ruled that MTS had mishandled an internal appeal against her dismissal in February 1992, and that her refusal to return her company car while on sick leave had played a large part in her losing her job.

Mrs Clode had risen to the post of senior sales executive on a salary of pounds 19,000. She told the tribunal she believed she was sacked because she was pregnant and that the company had used the dispute about the car as an excuse.

Mrs Clode, of Coatham Mundeville, near Darlington, Co Durham, said that male colleagues made disparaging remarks when they found out that she was going to have a third child. Richard Bailey, the managing director, told her that she was unfit to meet clients in her condition because they would call her a slut, she said.

She claimed that another male executive mocked her appearance, telling her that she looked like Mary Poppins. 'Comments were never made to me before I fell pregnant. I was always told how smart I looked,' she said.

Mr Bailey denied making the remark. However, his former secretary, Liz Ross, said that he had made derogatory comments about Mrs Clode and had asked her whether she thought it was 'terrible' that a woman of her age had got pregnant.

MTS said that her persistent failure to return the car, which was required by another employee, was considered gross misconduct and was the sole reason for her dismissal. It had nothing to do with the pregnancy.

Mrs Clode said: 'I am very disappointed. I wanted justice on behalf of other women who might find themselves in my position.'

The chairman of the tribunal said she was 80 per cent to blame because she kept her car when she fell ill and went into hospital. But he said that her appeal was unfairly handled by MTS because it was chaired by the same executive who presided over the original disciplinary hearing.