£50,000 for manager made redundant after maternity leave

Case of Ruth Parks supported by Northern Ireland Equality Commission

A Northern Ireland finance manager who was made redundant following her return to work after maternity leave has settled a claim alleging sex discrimination for £50,000.

Ruth Parks from Tandragee in Co Armagh took the case against Noonan Services Group, with the support of the North's Equality Commission.

Ms Parks became pregnant and in preparation for her maternity leave in 2013 her duties were reallocated. She claimed she was reassured that she would not be made redundant, and that her job was safe.

When Ms Parks, who had wide-ranging accounting duties in both Northern Ireland and the Republic, restarted work she alleged that she had a minimal list of duties.


She said her name had been removed from the finance organisation chart, two new accountants had been appointed and the hours of a colleague who had taken over some of her duties had been increased. She felt she was denied access to the finance files she needed for her work.

Ms Parks, according to the Equality Commission, brought a grievance which was not upheld and her appeal against this also was not upheld. A series of redundancy consultation meetings were held and Ms Parks was notified that she had been selected for redundancy.

Her appeal against this decision was also dismissed. She was offered an alternative position within the organisation which she did not consider acceptable, and she alleged that she was not considered for a post for which she was well suited which came up while she was on maternity leave.

“When I went off on maternity leave I was happy and felt reassured that I was a valued and respected member of the team,” said Ms Parks.

“My family life is also hugely important to me and I wanted to have more children. On my return to work it looked to me like I was being painted out of the picture,” she added.

“I could not resume my normal duties and I felt demeaned by the changes that had been made. I was devastated by the way I was treated when I returned to work. I felt I had to take action, not just for my own situation, but so that the same thing doesn’t happen to somebody else,” said Ms Parks.

Noonan Services Group expressed its regret "if Mrs Parks suffered any distress and upset by reason of the circumstances of her selection for redundancy" and apologised for that injury to her. The company, which employs 14,000 people and operates in Britain, Ireland and the Isle of Man, provides services such as cleaning, security and building maintenance.

A spokesman for Noonan Services Group said it “deeply regrets” the experience of Ms Parks.

“While it disputes some of the details surrounding Ms Parks’s departure, it has reviewed its policies to ensure that all employees continue to be offered as much encouragement and support to further their careers with the group as possible,” he added.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times