The Workplace Relations Commission has found that a woman was discriminatorily dismissed based on her gender and has ordered a county council to pay her compensation to the value of €50,000.
The woman worked in an administrative role when she told employers that she was pregnant.
She submitted that her fixed-term contract was not renewed in October of 2012 and she believed it was linked to her pregnancy.
The woman said a male co-worker’s contract was renewed but she was let go even though their roles were very similar.
In the complaint that the woman’s trade union, Impact, submitted to the commission, it was said that she was happy in her work but there was “an aura of anti-feminism in the council”.
It was said that in 2010, two years prior, she was contacted “out of the blue" to discuss her sick leave with the employee welfare officer and this came as a shock to her.
The woman shared her sick leave record by saying that almost all of her sick leave day’s had been certified by a doctor and most of those were related to miscarriages and recovery after operations.
In 2012 the woman became pregnant again but did not immediately inform anyone as sadly she had suffered four miscarriages in five year and wanted to wait until the pregnancy was advanced.
She informed her manager in July 2012 before her delivery date in October.
This was when her manager informed her that her contract was due to expire in October and would not be renewed for economic reasons.
The woman said that her manager also said: “The fact that you are pregnant does not help.”
Realising his mistake he later rang the woman to “clarify” his comments which she believes was because he knew he should not have linked her pregnancy to the failure to renew her contract.
The council claimed the woman had only been employed as a temporary administrative officer in the community and that the council had never been definitive about the renewal of the contract.
It said their decision was based on budget constraints and requirements to reduce public sector numbers.
The Workplace Relations Commission said the experience “felt like it was the 1970s”.
Equality officer Orlaith Mannion wanted to clarify that the entire period of pregnancy and maternity leave were constituted as a special and protected period under EU Law.
The county council has now been ordered to pay compensation of €50,000 to the woman.