Friday, 6 Dec 2019

Pregnant gift shop worker who was told to stay at home awarded €5,000 in discrimination case

A WORKER at a Dublin gift shop who was told to stay at home after getting pregnant has won her discrimination case against her employer.

She was awarded €5,000 after a Workplace Relations Commission adjudication officer found she was treated differently to other staff because of her gender.

The woman said her hours were also cut and claimed she was made to do all the heavy lifting by her employer when she was in.

In a decision just issued,  adjudication officer Niamh O’Carroll Kelly found the woman was discriminated against on gender grounds as seven female colleagues who were not pregnant and one male co-worker were never told they should not be working.

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The woman, who is not named, had worked for the retailer since 2012.

She said when she got pregnant her employer cut her hours and said she should not be working.

The woman said he called her on a few occasions to tell her not to come into work in her condition.

She said he did the same thing to another pregnant girl, but none of the other female workers or a male worker were treated like that.

The shop worker said when she was in he would make her do all the heavy lifting and carry in heavy boxes on the days deliveries were made.

Following her maternity leave, the woman said she emailed her boss to tell him she was ready to go back to work. However, while she was still on maternity leave in May last year he told her the shop was closing.

He said he had stopped trading at the shop and another one due to high rents, low sales and staffing issues.

The employer, who has four shops, advised her to go on the dole while he looked at a unit in Tallaght.

However, she said she believed the shop she worked in was still open although one shop closed before her maternity leave and another afterwards.

The woman said she doubted her boss’ claim that the shop was under new ownership and had a new name.

Based on emails between the pair, Ms O’Carroll Kelly said it was clear that the employer was experiencing financial difficulties around the time the worker was on maternity leave.

In an email in May last year, he said no staff, low sales, a large hike in rents and his own personal health issues meant it was impossible to continue trading at a shop referred to as ‘L. Street’ and Andrews Street.

In her findings, Ms O’Carroll Kelly rejected the woman’s claim that she was discriminated against due to her family status as she was not a parent at the time.

However, she said her complaint on gender grounds was well founded.

In relation to a separate complaint for redundancy pay, she said she was satisfied the worker was made redundant although the exact date of the closure was not known.

She said she is entitled to a payment based on a weekly wage of €370.

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