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Blog  »  April 2017  »  €30,000 awarded to pregnant woman dismissed during probation - Blog
10
Apr 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

€30,000 awarded to pregnant woman dismissed during probation

The Workplace Relations Commissioner ordered the owner of a seafood restaurant to pay €30,000 compensation to a pregnant employee who was dismissed during her probation.

The employee was pregnant at the time of commencing work at the restaurant as restaurant manager. Two months later, after getting the all clear in an ultra-sound, she informed her manager that she was pregnant. Following this she said she noticed a change in atmosphere. She was no longer invited to managerial meetings and then received an e-mail from her manager outlining some performance issues that had not been discussed with her previously. She replied to the email accepting responsibility to some of the issues but attributed most of them to inadequate training. She also offered to have a meeting with her boss to discuss these issues but despite her request no meeting ever took place. Three days after this e-mail was sent and one month after she gave notice of her pregnancy, she was let go.

She brought a claim under the equality legislation alleging that she had been discriminated against and dismissed due to her pregnancy. The restaurant contended that the dismissal arose from performance issues and was unrelated to the pregnancy. The restaurant claimed that adequate training had been given and that meetings to discuss performance issues took place before the announcement of her pregnancy, although no notes were recorded.

Finding

With no such records, the adjudicating officer ruled that she did not find it credible that such meetings took place. She found that due to the manager’s refusal for a meeting after the email was sent and the close proximity of the announcement of the pregnancy to the dismissal, that the pregnancy was a significant factor to the decision of her dismissal.

Learning Points

This case highlights the importance of following fair procedures and documenting these procedures when dismissing an employee. Even employees on probation are entitled to natural justice and fundamentally fair procedures.

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