Woman sacked for expecting wins case

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A bakery has been ordered to pay more than £23,000 to a former worker after an employment tribunal found she had been sacked for becoming pregnant.

Nicola McNamee, 24, took the sex discrimination case against Melting Moments bakery in Co Fermanagh after she was dismissed around a week after telling her employer she was going to have a baby.

The company claimed that its decision to let Ms McNamee go last April, just two months after taking her on, was based on her conduct and performance.

But this contention was rejected by an industrial tribunal panel, which instead found the reason for dismissal was “the fact of her pregnancy”.

The panel also accepted a claim by Ms McNamee, who was supported in bringing the case by the Equality Commission, that she was told at her initial job interview not to get pregnant or married in her first year in the job.

Although an employee with less than 12 months’ continuous employment cannot usually bring a claim of unfair dismissal, this is not the case where the reason is related to pregnancy.

Ms McNamee, who went on to give birth to her daughter Melissa Rose, was awarded £7,500 for injury to her feelings and £15,788 compensation for loss of earnings.

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner at the Equality Commission, said that the laws governing pregnancy and maternity issues in the workplace were essential to protect the rights and support the needs of women in the workplace.

“The Equality Commission still receives more complaints about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace than about any other form of gender discrimination. Employers can find that offering flexible working arrangements opens up a wider pool of talent for posts and increases the commitment and loyalty of staff who benefit from it.”