Landmark ruling protects pregnant employees’ jobs

The
European Court of Justice has issued two landmark rulings increasing the
protection of pregnant staff against dismissal.

The
first ruling relates to a case brought against Tele Danmark after the company
dismissed a member of staff on a fixed contract who was unable to work the full
term because of pregnancy. She had been recruited to work on a six-month fixed
period, but subsequently told her employer she was expecting a baby in the
fifth month of that term.

The
employer had argued that she was dismissed not because she was pregnant but
because she was unable to work a substantial part of the fixed term and she had
breached the duty of good faith by not mentioning her pregnancy at the
interview.

The
court rejected both these arguments under the EU Equal Treatment Directive and
the Pregnant Worker Directive, and the ruling extends the scope beyond previous
case law.

In
a separate case, the court ruled that the non-renewal of a fixed-term contract
because of pregnancy would also constitute unlawful sex discrimination.

By Ross Wigham

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