Employee awarded €80,000 over ‘range of unlawful treatment’

Worker told her role no longer existed following maternity leave

Lisa Mullen’s former employer is said to have commented, when she was telling clients  of her  pregnancy:  “Yes, and to be honest, lads, I am not too happy about this. She was meant to stop after her first two . . . ”

Lisa Mullen’s former employer is said to have commented, when she was telling clients of her pregnancy: “Yes, and to be honest, lads, I am not too happy about this. She was meant to stop after her first two . . . ”

Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 21:31

A financial controller demoted to a debt collector role after taking maternity leave has been awarded €80,000 by the Equality Tribunal. Lisa Mullen had been subjected to “a range of unlawful treatment” from the time she told BCon Communications Ltd she was pregnant, the tribunal found.

Ms Mullen told the tribunal that when, in November 2009, she informed her employer, a Mr W, of her pregnancy, he responded: “Jesus Lisa, you don’t hang around.” She was extremely upset by this, as she had had a miscarriage the previous July, of which he was aware.

Two weeks after this incident, Ms Mullen, who already had two children, said she was telling clients of her pregnancy when Mr W said: “Yes, and to be honest, lads, I am not too happy about this. She was meant to stop after her first two and now I have been informed that she is having a third.”

Ms Mullen was involved in the interview for her temporary replacement. When the issue of the duration of the contract was raised, Mr W is alleged to have said: “Well, I’m not sure if Lisa will be coming back to work, especially now she will have three children to look after.” Equality officer Vivian Jackson said he found Ms Mullen a “credible and truthful witness” and that these comments constituted harassment on gender and family status grounds.

Shortly before Ms Mullen was to return to work, she was told the role of financial controller no longer existed. She was offered an alternative position which involved an additional eight hours work a week, a 40 per cent cut in her salary and a more junior position. She refused this and the company agreed to restore her pre-maternity leave hours and terms and conditions, but not her title or role. She also refused this offer and the company said it was treating this refusal as a resignation, she said.

Mr Jackson found the termination of Ms Mullen’s employment was “inextricably linked” to her pregnancy and maternity leave and she was “dismissed in circumstances amounting to discrimination on grounds of gender and family status”. He awarded her €80,000 in compensation for the distress suffered as a consequence of the discrimination.