Thursday 17 October 2019

'Nightmare'- mother discriminatorily dismissed after returning from maternity leave awarded over €50K

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Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

A woman who was discriminatorily dismissed from her role with a security company after returning from maternity leave has been awarded more than €50,000.

Karen Kelly (32) had been on maternity leave and due to return to her job as a receptionist in March 2018 when she was informed she was being moved to a different office.

Ms Kelly, who was living in Rush, was a permanent employee in a Swords office for G4S Security but was offered a six-month fixed contract at a Ballymount site.

Having had a 30-minute commute to work in her initial role, the new fixed term contract would also require a four-hour round trip to work as she relied on public transport.

It was Ms Kelly's case that refusing to allow her to return to her job, or a suitable alternative position following her maternity leave, amounted to discriminatory treatment on the grounds of gender.

G4S had claimed that her removal from the site had "nothing to do" with Ms Kelly's pregnancy or maternity leave.

Instead, it said that Karen Kelly was removed from the site at the request of the client who had expressed a preference to retain a male employee who provided maternity cover.

An earlier decision by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), in which €11,600 had been awarded to the complainant, was appealed by both parties.

This week the Labour court ruled that Ms Kelly was discriminatorily dismissed, and also dismissed an appeal by G4S.

The court found that a "fair and equitable" amount of €51,168 should be awarded for discriminatory dismissal.

Karen Kelly told the Irish Independent she was glad the "nightmare" was over, and praised her family and partner, as well as solicitor Mairead Carey, for "fighting tooth and nail" for her throughout the case.

Irish Independent

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