Tuesday 11 December 2018

Award tripled for pregnant worker told by boss 'to look better and appear happy'

A shop owner who reprimanded a pregnant employee about her appearance, and said she needed to look better and appear happy, has been ordered to pay €18,000 in a pregnancy discrimination case. Stock image
A shop owner who reprimanded a pregnant employee about her appearance, and said she needed to look better and appear happy, has been ordered to pay €18,000 in a pregnancy discrimination case. Stock image

Gordon Deegan

A shop owner who reprimanded a pregnant employee about her appearance, and said she needed to look better and appear happy, has been ordered to pay €18,000 in a pregnancy discrimination case.

This follows the Labour Court finding that Kildare town-based Clelands Supermarkets Ltd pays Karolina Poslajko €12,000 for gender discrimination, and an additional €6,000 for victimisation.

The case came before the Labour Court after Clelands appealed a ruling by an equality officer who found that Ms Poslajko was discriminated against.

The Labour Court not only upheld the ruling by the equality officer, but tripled the equality officer's €6,000 award to €18,000, and also found that Ms Poslajko was victimised against.

In her evidence, Ms Poslajko said that her second pregnancy was confirmed in August 2014 and she advised her supervisor at Clelands, and left a GP's letter in the office confirming this.

Later that month, the owner of the business called Ms Poslajko to his office and reprimanded her for allegedly making mistakes, and advised that she would have to work harder.

Sickness

Ms Poslajko told the Labour Court that she was suffering from morning sickness and was often uncomfortable sitting at the check-out.

A number of weeks after that meeting, the owner again called Ms Poslajko into the office and informed her that her weekly hours were to be cut from 39 to 24 because she was, in his view, not working as hard as other colleagues. Ms Poslajko said he had also reprimanded her about her appearance and said she needed to look better and appear happy.

Ms Poslajko went on maternity leave in March 2015 and her solicitors wrote to Clelands in July 2015 advising that Ms Poslajko believed that the reductions that had been made to her hours related directly to her pregnancy and, therefore, constituted direct discrimination on the gender ground.

On returning to work in October 2015, she was informed her hours were being reduced again because the business was not performing.

Ms Poslajko told the court that this wasn't enough to support her family and she resigned from Clelands in March 2016.

The hearing was told the owner was unaware of Ms Poslajko's pregnancy before November 2014 and, therefore, any disciplinary action and/or reduction in her hours which took place prior to that are unrelated to the pregnancy.

Irish Independent

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