Monday 11 December 2017

Woman fails to prove cinema chain sacked her over pregnancy

Saurya Cherfi

A MOTHER of two, who alleged she was sacked 10 days after telling her boss she was pregnant, has lost her challenge to the Employment Appeals Tribunal’s rejection of her claim of unfair dismissal.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said in the Circuit Civil Court that Evechen Bleakley’s position as human resources manager at cinema chain Omniplex Holdings Ltd had become superfluous as the economic climate changed.

She re-affirmed the determination of the EAT which held in November last year that the company had acted fairly, reasonably and genuinely with regard to Ms Bleakley’s redundancy.

Ms Bleakley, of The Grove, Celbridge, Co Kildare, who was based in the Dublin head office of Omniplex, said she was unaware her employer had decided to make her redundant. She had been told she was being let go 10 days after she had announced she was pregnant.

She told the court she would have been happy to accept an offer of alternative employment in the company as her husband, an engineer, was himself unemployed at the time.

Mark Anderson, operation director of Omniplex, said the decision to let Ms Bleakley go had been taken in December 2009 during a meeting with his father and managing director, Paul Anderson, but was deferred to January 2010 after Christmas.

He said Ms Bleakley was hired in 2005 at a time when the company was encountering a high turnover of staff. While Ms Bleakley was an enthusiastic employee, the economic situation changed and the emphasis was put on the reduction of costs.

Paul Anderson said that after 2007 “the tiger died” and staff turnover reduced drastically. Ms Bleakley’s role decreased and a new layer of management was created in 2009.

Both Anderson senior and junior denied Ms Bleakley’s pregnancy had been the reason they let her go.

Judge Linnane said no new HR manager had been appointed since Ms Bleakley was made redundant. She accepted the redundancy situation was genuine and she dismissed Ms Bleakley’s appeal. She made no order as to costs.

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