Sintija Gaikniece, a 25-year-old woman, has been granted £17,500 in compensation after claiming she was unfairly terminated from her position at a vape shop due to her pregnancy.
Gaikniece began working at VPZ in Forfar, Scotland, in January 2022, but her time in the sales role was abruptly cut short. Just two weeks into the job, she discovered that she was pregnant. While her managers assured her that discussions about maternity leave would occur at a later date, Gaikniece alleges that these conversations never took place. Instead, she was informed that she no longer had a job at the end of June 2022 when she was six months pregnant.
According to Gaikniece, she was told that her dismissal was a result of problems with her attitude and customer complaints. Expressing her shock, she explained that she believed her termination was driven by the company’s reluctance to accommodate her extended absence during maternity leave and the associated costs. Gaikniece suspected that they fabricated a reason to terminate her and already had a job advertisement prepared to replace her.
In her account to the Daily Record, Gaikniece shared that during a probationary meeting with her boss at the end of June, he cited customer attitude complaints as the reason for her failure to pass probation. However, she claims she was not provided with specific details regarding the alleged complaints. Subsequently, she was given the option to leave immediately if she wished, which she did. Gaikniece returned home and applied for Universal Credit.
Following her dismissal, Gaikniece filed an employment tribunal claim. However, the stress of taking legal action against her former employer exacerbated her existing anxiety condition. Financial difficulties arose as she struggled to support her newborn son, Thomas, born in November while she remained unemployed.
Gaikniece asserts that she requested a copy of her probationary handbook, which she believes would have proven that no complaints were made against her. However, she alleges that the book was never provided to her.
During the employment tribunal, evidence of an online job advertisement for Gaikniece’s position before her dismissal was presented. Consequently, VPZ was ordered to compensate her with a total sum of £17,583.06, which includes £4,000 for lost earnings and £300 for notice pay.
Gaikniece expressed her relief following the ruling, stating that she felt as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. However, she expressed a desire for VPZ to acknowledge their mistake and apologize, as the entire ordeal had caused her significant anxiety about raising her child.
In response, a spokesperson for VPZ emphasized their commitment to equal opportunities and highlighted their inclusive culture, along with their leading paternity and maternity policy. While they respect the tribunal’s decision, they are appealing the ruling and, due to ongoing legal proceedings, declined to comment further on the case.