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Pregnant actor denied playing a role wins tribunal claim

An actor brought an employment tribunal claim for pregnancy and maternity discrimination. The actor starred in the first series of a television programme but, due to her visible pregnancy, she was not recast to play the same role in the second television series.

The respondent’s defence was that it was a “general occupation requirement” that the character could not be seen to be visibly pregnant as viewers may link this to the plot, and therefore there was a genuine occupational requirement, so the decision to not recast her was permitted by an exception under the Equality Act 2010.

The actor argued that there were methods that the respondent could have adopted to conceal her pregnancy during filming, so she could still take the role without it interfering with the plot.

The tribunal rejected the respondent’s argument, and found that it would have been possible to conceal the actor’s pregnancy through the use of costume, camera angle, props, the positioning of other actors and make up if appropriate. The tribunal concluded that the decision to not recast the actor due to her pregnancy was not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and as a result, the actor’s claim was upheld and she was awarded £4,370.75 (and £336.73 interest) for financial loss and £6,000 (and £924.49 interest) for injury to feelings.