Company ordered to pay €17k for firing employee off sick after miscarriage
A chicken processing firm has been ordered to pay €17,000 to a woman it unfairly dismissed while she was off sick after suffering a miscarriage.
In the case, it is alleged that a female payroll employee at Western Brand Group Ltd told 37-year old Bulgarian, Aneta Petrova, that she was "sick for too long" when dismissing her on December 29, 2015.
This was 12 days after Ms Petrova was diagnosed with having a ectopic pregnancy.
The night before, she was brought by ambulance to the emergency department at Mayo University Hospital after fainting at her home.
On December 21, a medical certificate was delivered to Ms Petrova's employer, the Western Brand Group Ltd's offices in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, conirming she had suffered a miscarriage.
Eight days later, Ms Petrova said she was sacked summarily over the phone after an employee at the firm's payroll office told her she was "sick for too long", she was suspended and her P45 would be sent to her.
Ms Petrova - who holds a masters degree in European Law - worked on the firm's chicken fillet line at its Ballyhaunis plant.
Before the Labour Court, the group pleaded that it didn't realise that Ms Petrova was pregnant or had suffered a miscarriage at the time of dismissal and that her medical certs confirming the miscarriage were not seen by payroll before the call was made to dismiss her.
The company stated that after finding that Ms Petrova suffered a miscarriage, it subsequently apologised to her and said that she could re-apply for her job when she returned to full health.
Ms Petrova was suing for unfair dismissal and in its ruling the Labour Court found that the Western Brand Group Ltd was aware that Ms Petrova's illness related to her pregnancy and miscarriage at the time of dismissal.
The Western Brand Group was appealing an earlier Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer ruling which found that Ms Petrova was unfairly dismissed and awarded her €12,000.
The Labour Court ruling has now upheld the unfair dismissal ruling and increased the level of compensation to €17,000.