Woman sacked after becoming pregnant wins discrimination claim

MoJA Northern Irish woman has won her legal claim for discrimination after she claimed that she was dismissed from her job because she became pregnant.

Nicola McNamee brought her claim for pregnancy discrimination in the Equality Commission after it found that she had been treated unfavourably at work because of her pregnancy.

Ms McNamee commenced employment at the Melting Moments Bakery in Lisnaskea in February 2013, believing that the job would be a long-term one as she had been told that it would take her about six months to get up to speed with the job. She worked without incident at the bakery until she found that she was pregnant in late March 2013, when she started to experience problems at work; after she informed one of the owners of the bakery in early April 2013 that she was pregnant, she was told that she was not performing to the level expected of her and subsequently dismissed.

After being dismissed from her job, Ms McNamee brought a claim for pregnancy discrimination to the Equality Commission, claiming that she had been unfavourably treated by her employer because of her pregnancy. The claim came to the Equality Commission earlier this year, with the Equality Commission ruling in Ms McNamee’s favour in her claims. She was awarded by the Equality Commission £7,500 for injury to feelings and £15,788 as compensation for loss of earnings, a total of just over £23,000.

Ms McNamee commented on the case after the judgment was released: “She suggested that I think about whether it was best for me to continue working or if I’d be better off leaving. I didn’t want to leave, I was happy to work and I was devastated when I was dismissed a week later. I am glad the tribunal has found in my favour and now I just want to get on with my life with my little daughter.”

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Employers must take care to ensure that they treat pregnant employees fairly and that these employees are not subjected to any detriment because of a protected characteristic, such as that an employee is pregnant and/or on maternity leave. If an employer does discriminate against an employee because they are (for example) pregnant then the employer is risking a claim against them in the Employment Tribunal.”