Woman awarded nearly £28,000 in compensation for unlawful dismissal connected to pregnancy

A woman who was unlawfully dismissed because of her pregnancy has been awarded nearly £28,000 in compensation.

Laura Gruzdaite, 26, brought a case against McGrane Nurseries Ltd in Co Armagh to the Industrial Tribunal with support from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Ms Gruzdaite and her husband started work at the company in January 2018, signing a blank contract with no start or end dates. She believed it was a permanent job and was not told at any point that it was to be a seasonal job.

They were both dismissed in October while other seasonal workers were kept on by the employer and carried out duties that Ms Gruzdaite previously performed.

The Industrial Tribunal unanimously found that “a decision was made to terminate the claimant’s contract by choosing her to leave earlier than others because she had been on ante-natal appointments and would be going on more appointments”.

The Tribunal found the decision to terminate the claimant’s contract was tainted by discrimination in that it was connected to her pregnancy and consequently her dismissal was both unfair and an act of unlawful discrimination.

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, said: “It is dispiriting that we are at Tribunal once again supporting another case of pregnancy discrimination. I’m afraid this is still all too common and in spite of the legislation being in place for more than 40 years, some employers still seem to be unaware of the law and the consequences of breaching it.

“Every year, around a quarter of all the complaints of discrimination made to our advice line are to do with sex discrimination. Of those, consistently the largest number, around 22% of the total are about pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

“Laura Gruzdaite was 20 weeks’ pregnant at the time she and her husband were dismissed. They had arrived in Northern Ireland ready and willing to work and have started to make their life here. Laura’s husband has since found other work and she is caring for their baby.”

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