Saturday 26 May 2018

'It was the most sad time... and then I cried again when I saw the P45' - woman sacked after miscarriage

  • Grieving Aneta was told she lost job after being 'sick for too long'

  • Former employer ordered to pay Aneta Petrova €17,000

  • Labour Court found that Western Brand did know about Ms Petrova's pregnancy and miscarriage at the time of dismissal

Aneta Petrova with her Son David at home in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo. Photograph by Eamon Ward
Aneta Petrova with her Son David at home in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Gordon Deegan

A 37-year-old said she was left "a broken woman" after suffering a miscarriage and being summarily sacked days later by her employer while on sick leave two years ago.

Aneta Petrova was commenting yesterday on the Labour Court ordering that her former employer, chicken producer Western Brand Group Ltd, pays her €17,000 after finding that she was unfairly dismissed from the company's chicken processing plant at Ballyhaunis in Co Mayo.

Ms Petrova said that she cried down the phone when told by a Western Brand Ltd representative on December 29, 2015, that she lost her job because she was "sick for too long" .

"I cried on the phone because I felt guilty because I lost a job I was looking for, for a year," she said. "I didn't realise that this was real and was happening - and then when I saw the P45 I cried even more."

Just 12 days earlier, Ms Petrova was rushed to hospital after fainting at home and she subsequently had a miscarriage at hospital as a result of having an ectopic pregnancy.

"It was the most sad time," she said. "I was grieving - every woman who has been through this - we all grieve. You feel guilty that you didn't keep this baby - you feel terribly, terribly broken. And to top it off - just to lose a simple job like that for a reason like this - I couldn't understand it."

Ms Petrova, who is originally from Bulgaria, said she didn't know she was pregnant when rushed to Mayo University Hospital on December 17 and believes now that she was seven weeks pregnant when she miscarried.

Traumatised

"I was devastated because of my age - I'm old for having children - and I was told that because of my medical history that I probably won't have children. I had the saddest Christmas of my life that year," she said. "I was really, really in a bad emotional condition. Physically Western Brand traumatised me in the manner in which they sacked me. This shouldn't happen to anyone."

Ms Petrova has a masters degree in European law and a degree in economics and speaks English, Russian, German and Spanish. She left Bulgaria for Ireland to be with her boyfriend, Stephan, in Ballyhaunis. Ms Petrova was earning €8.65 an hour at her job in Mayo.

"I was asked why someone so highly qualified was trying to get a job in a meat factory, but it is a job that puts bread on the table," she said.

Ms Petrova said that when she told Irish friends in 2016 of her summarily dismissal "they strongly advised me not to do anything - to move on with my life and to get another job".

"I didn't listen to them - I believe what happened to me is not right," she said. "Irish people often say 'it is not too bad', but it is really bad."

Conor O'Dwyer, of O'Dwyer Solicitors, in Ballyhaunis, represented Ms Petrova in the case.

Before the Labour Court, the Western Brand Group pleaded that it didn't realise Ms Petrova was pregnant or had suffered a miscarriage at the time of dismissal.

The company subsequently apologised. However, the Labour Court found that Western Brand did know about Ms Petrova's pregnancy and miscarriage at the time of dismissal.

Ms Petrova gave birth to a baby boy, David, 11 months ago and is back sending out CVs looking for work once more.

Irish Independent

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