Historic Ruling For Adoption Employee

A young woman manager who was sacked because her plan to adopt a child would make her “no bloody use” to her employers won a landmark employment tribunal case yesterday.

Anna Coulombeau, 24, is to give her undisclosed compensation award – understood to run into thousands of pounds – to adoption and fostering charities after getting another job.

She was the victim of a carefully organised plot, according to a tribunal in Nottingham, which praised her work in exposing the reality behind a string of disciplinary charges used to force her out. It upheld her claims of unfair dismissal related to her adoption hopes – the first ruling of its kind in Britain – and agreed that she had suffered sex discrimination.

“Her manager saw her as likely to need time off for adoption purposes, including ultimately adoption leave, because she is a woman. It is why he orchestrated her dismissal,” the tribunal ruled.

The hearing was told that Ms Coulombeau had earned glowing comments from managers at Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Nottingham which she joined three years ago. Promoted to manager level, she was described in appraisals as “fantastic” and “passionate” about her work.

But in the autumn of 2005, only a few weeks after she had taken holiday leave to start pre-adoption courses, she was called to two disciplinary hearings, sacked for gross misconduct and had an appeal against the decision dismissed.

The tribunal was told that the “genuine but minor” errors on her part were ones for which male colleagues had previously only been reprimanded.

Ms Coulombeau started discreet inquiries and a comment from a colleague led her to bring the tribunal action. She was told that Nottingham’s city manager had told another colleague, when he heard about her adoption hopes: “Well, she’ll be no bloody use to me then.”