Doctor ordered by Labour Court to pay former secretary €27,500

Labour Court finds woman discriminated against for dismissal on maternity leave

A Co Mayo GP has been ordered to pay a former practice secretary €27,500 after it was found he discriminated against her when dismissing her while she was on maternity leave.

In the case, the Labour Court has ordered Dr Enda Loftus to pay Martine O'Sullivan the sum arising from her claim of discriminatory dismissal on the grounds of gender.

In the Labour Court ruling, it found that it did not find the evidence of Dr Loftus that he did not know Ms O’Sullivan was an employee “to be credible” for a number of reasons.

The Labour Court listed the reasons where Dr Loftus signed Ms O’Sullivan’s contract; he signed a form that was submitted to claim a HSE subsidy in relation to her position with her contract attached and when she reported for work after her maternity leave he asked her to change her hours and then proposed that she job-share.


The court found that Ms O’Sullivan was treated less favourably because of her pregnancy when she was not allowed to return to work at the expiry of her maternity leave.

The Labour Court overturned an earlier ruling by a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer that found that Ms O'Sullivan's claim was not well founded.

Dr Loftus operates a practice in the remote north western Mayo village of Glenamoy and he commenced working there as a GP on December 1st, 2015.

The same day, Ms O’Sullivan told the Labour Court she introduced herself to Dr Loftus and informed him that she would that day be commencing her maternity leave and would be due back to work on June 1st 2016.

Ms O’Sullivan advised Dr Loftus that a Caroline Kearns would cover her period of maternity leave.

However, when Ms O’Sullivan returned to work on June 1st 2016 there was no position available for her.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times