A business owner who sacked his pregnant wife two days after she found his receipts for ‘adult entertainment’ has been ordered to pay her more than £15,000.
Financial consultant Nicole Ramsay was working for her then-husband Stephen’s lawn care company when she confronted him over spending more than £500 on X-rated online services.
An employment tribunal heard the managing director responded by firing his 33-year-old wife who was seven months pregnant with the couple’s fourth child at the time.
While heavily pregnant and desperate to claim Universal Credit to make ends meet, Nicole’s payslips – a crucial part of the benefit-claiming process – were withheld from her by her former husband.
She was also sent abusive text and Whatsapp messages, had her house key and work phone taken from her and her car insurance stopped.
Now, Ms Ramsay has successfully sued the 40-year-old for marriage discrimination and won more than £15,000 in compensation from him.
Nicole Ramsay (above) was working for her then-husband Stephen Ramsay’s lawn care company in Southend-on-Sea when she was sacked while pregnant with their fourth child for challenging him on his X-rated porn purchases
The tribunal, held in east London, heard Mrs Ramsay started working for her husband’s lawncare business in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, as administrative manager and company secretary in August 2015.
The hearing was told Mrs Ramsay found out she was expecting the couple’s fourth child in March 2019.This was a planned pregnancy, and the baby was due on November 2019.
However in September 2019, when she was 31 weeks pregnant, Mrs Ramsay questioned her husband over three receipts she had found.
The receipts were for £179.99 each, totalling £539.97, for online adult entertainment services and were all within a 23 hour period, the tribunal heard.Following the confrontation the couple agreed to separate.
The next day, however, Mrs Ramsay woke to discover her husband had taken her house key and sent her abusive texts and WhatsApp messages.
In one message, Mr Ramsay said: ‘You are not needed, not like you did anything anyway…Why are you still working?
‘I don’t want you having anything to do with it anymore… I would rather fold my business than give you anything from them…
‘After everything you have done over the past couple of years you don’t deserve anything and if you try I will make sure I have nothing to give you.’
Throughout the day she still answered phone calls regarding the business in a professional manner, but was later sent more ‘aggressive and inappropriate’ messages from Mr Ramsay about the breakdown of the marriage.
The tribunal heard these messages were ‘threatening and abusive’.
Stephen (left) spent more than £530 in less than 24 hours on X-rated adult entertainment.Two days later, and Nicole was fired, sent abusive text messages had her house key taken
Two days after the receipts were found, Mrs Ramsay’s company fuel card was stopped by Mr Ramsay. Her work phone was also stopped.
The tribunal ruled ‘this was due to the couple’s marital problems’.
In one message, Mr Ramsay said: ‘Your fuel card will not be working from today…You will need to sort out a new phone as soon as possible as I won’t be funding that either.’
He asked her when she would be starting maternity leave and said: ‘You can find a new job to start at the end of your leave’.
The tribunal heard that one week after the couple’s separation Mr Ramsay moved out of the family home.The next day Mrs Ramsay’s contract was terminated without her knowledge or consent.
Her car insurance had always been arranged and paid for by the company for personal and business use but this was cancelled without warning and she was left with less than 15 hours to sort out new insurance.
The tribunal heard the stress of this coupled with the late stage of her pregnancy caused her to have medical issues.
In October 2019, Mrs Ramsay initiated divorce proceedings.
The couple’s fourth child, a daughter, was born in November 2019 and she started her maternity leave which was due to end in October 2020.
The tribunal heard she did not return to work after the end of her maternity leave and started a new job elsewhere as a financial consultant in November 2020.
Mr Ramsay continued to pay her during her maternity leave but reduced her monthly salary from £1,500 to £1,250.
The tribunal heard further deductions were made until the end of her maternity leave, totalling more than £10,000.
Employment Judge Mike Hallen said: ‘The emotional worry and intimidation that [Mrs Ramsay] faced as a consequence of the actions of [Mr Ramsay] had caused her worry which at such a late stage in her pregnancy caused medical issues brought on by stress.
‘[She] had to wake up to find her work key stolen from her personal possessions which was traumatic for her.
‘She was told via text that she was no longer required at her place of work and losing all her access to any work systems which were revoked without notice also impacted adversely on her as did the stopping of her fuel card and car insurance without notice or prior warning.
‘Having three small children and being heavily pregnant trying to organise car insurance without any details being provided to her of previous insurer caused [Mrs Ramsay] stress.
‘She repeatedly requested payslips which were missing and had not been provided to her which were crucial in order for her to claim Universal Credit to be able to support herself due to being on her own, were withheld from her for months.
‘The continued harassment regarding her wages and the onslaught of irrelevant and threatening emails received from Mr Ramsay also caused her anxiety.
‘[Mrs Ramsay’s] mortgage was in arrears alongside many other bills that were unpaid due to her salary being slowly decreased and stopped caused [her] additional stress.’
Mrs Ramsay was awarded £10,568 for unauthorised deductions from wages and £5,000 in compensation for sex ‘injury to feelings’ in respect of her direct marriage discrimination claim.
Her other claims of pregnancy discrimination and victimisation were dismissed.