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Groom wins in case against stable boss who refused to remove horse during meeting: “The [company] did not follow any process”

A groom at a race horse stables won a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, after one of her bosses refused to get off her horse at a meeting to discuss her parenting.


Charlotte Holloway has been awarded more than £4,000 after an employment tribunal expressed disbelief at the Derby-winning Durdans Stables.

Mrs. Holloway had a dispute with her superiors during her maternity leave, and they denied her request to retain the same hours when she returned to work.

When she went to the stables to discuss the problem, the owner’s partner, who was also helping to run the company, refused to get down from her horse, so the meeting was held in the stables with everyone forced to stand.


Ms. Holloway told the tribunal, which was held virtually, that she felt she had no choice but to retire.

She subsequently sued her former employers for unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination and won $5185.06 in compensation.

Charlotte Holloway

Image courtesy: Yahoo


Mrs. Holloway began working at Durdans in Epsom, Surrey, in October 2018.

Her employers describe the stables as “the most outstanding in Epsom from a historical, architectural and equestrian perspective” and “one of the most notable in the whole country”.

Mrs. Holloway worked 21 hours each week, including Saturday mornings and full days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She disliked Mondays and Fridays since that was when her parents, who helped her with childcare, were at work.According to the tribunal, she fell pregnant with her second child, which caused her to be furloughed at the start of lockdown in March 2020, some three months before her baby was due.

On February 26, 2021, she stated that she wanted her days and hours to be the same as before her maternity leave.The stables wrote her on March 17 to clarify that they needed her to work an altered schedule Thursday morning, as well as full days on Friday and Sunday.


The hours were difficult for Mrs. Holloway because she had planned childcare around her former working schedule, according to the tribunal.

“She also did not want to work a whole day at a weekend with a young family, and Sunday has always been difficult for her because her husband has sporting commitments,” it said.

The stables replied that it was not “reasonably practicable” to allow her to get back to her previous job and hours and days.

It said that she had taken four weeks of additional maternity leave on top of the standard period.


Mrs. Holloway requested a meeting, which she attended with her father in April.

Stephen Cooper, the boss, was also present at the meeting where his partner refused to get off her high horse.Mrs. Holloway resigned in May after refusing to agree on suggested changes to her schedule.

The tribunal determined that she had been discriminated against and unfairly dismissed, noting that managers made it impossible for her to return because she had taken longer maternity leave.

Employment Judge Anna Corrigan said: “[The company] did not enter discussions about [her] return and days of work in a spirit of compromise.


“As a result, possible solutions in respect of [Mrs. Holloway’s] working days were not explored.

“We also take account of the indignity of how [Mrs. Holloway] was treated at the meeting with her father.

“We’ve never come across anything like the situation where Mr. Cooper’s partner held the meeting on the horse, forcing everyone to stand.

“The [company] did not follow any process.”

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