A mum with no legal qualifications has won £60,000 from a tribunal after standing alone against her employers at Morrisons.
A judge found that Donna Patterson, 38, was discriminated against by the supermarket when she returned to work after maternity leave.
Unable to afford lawyers’ fees of £300 an hour, the former food buyer challenged Morrison’s lawyers herself and questioned eight former colleagues.
The married mother-of-two’s win has already seen her likened to Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts’ character in the Oscar-winning film of the same name.
Judge finds Donna Patterson, 38, was discriminated against by supermarket when she returned to work after maternity leave
The film tells the true story of a mother who, despite her lack of legal knowledge, wins a case against a company that poisons the water in her town.
Ms Patterson received messages of support after her David vs Goliath win, adding: ‘Someone wrote: ‘Oh she’s like Erin Brockovich’.
“I can see how it looks like that, but it makes me sound like a pioneer. I do not want it. Her legal battle began in August 2020 when she took a year’s maternity leave from her part-time job as a food buyer at Morrisons’ Bradford headquarters.
The mum, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, already had a son, Rory, now five, and then had another boy, Lorcan, two.
But when she returned to her role last year, bosses reassigned her to a different, permanent role.
Unable to afford legal fees of £300 an hour, the former food buyer challenged Morrison’s lawyers herself and cross-examined eight former colleagues
With no extra pay and a newborn baby to care for, she struggled with the “terrible” new job and raised several unsuccessful complaints.
“They had decided that the new permanent role I was in was a perfect fit for me because I was very experienced and I should be able to do it with my eyes closed,” she said.
But the demand took its toll and she was signed off sick with stress. She later resigned on the grounds of constructive dismissal. Ms Patterson started legal proceedings and spoke to several lawyers, one of whom encouraged her to reach a settlement.
The married mother-of-two’s win has already seen her likened to Erin Brockovich, pictured, Julia Roberts’ character in the Oscar-winning film of the same name
With no extra pay and a newborn baby to care for, she struggled with the “terrible” new job and raised several unsuccessful complaints. A Morrisons store is pictured above
But she said: “I just basically couldn’t accept that. It was never about the money.
“Morrisons should have said we were wrong… and we’re sorry and we’ll do better.
“I just want to see my kids, but I also want to be mentally stimulated by going to work. I don’t understand why employers still find it so difficult to comply with these two things.
Realizing she couldn’t afford a lawyer, she represented herself – and won the five-day hearing.
Recalling the moment, she said: “I just felt these tears coming down my face.”
Morrisons said: “We do not accept that we have acted in a dishonest manner and believe that a number of facts have been misrepresented. We are considering an appeal.