Pregnant woman asked if she had eaten too much Supermac’s awarded €14,000

Woman tells WRC she found hotel manager’s comment ‘inappropriate and offensive’

  Workplace Relations Commission: The department manager is alleged to have asked the woman, a bar manager, the question the same day the woman was dismissed from her post on September 5th, 2017. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Workplace Relations Commission: The department manager is alleged to have asked the woman, a bar manager, the question the same day the woman was dismissed from her post on September 5th, 2017. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A department manager at a hotel asked a colleague in her seventh month of pregnancy if she had eaten too much Supermac’s or was she expecting.

The department manager is alleged to have asked the woman, a bar manager, the question the same day the woman was dismissed from her post on September 5th, 2017.

Now the Workplace Relations Commission has ordered the unnamed hotel – part of a group – to pay €14,000 for the woman’s dismissal after finding that she was discriminated against on gender grounds.

In her findings, WRC adjudication officer Ewa Sobanska found that the bar manager’s dismissal was tainted with discrimination and her pregnancy was a significant factor contributing to her dismissal.

Ms Sobanska said she found no genuine redundancy situation existed at the time of the bar manager’s dismissal.

The bar manager told the WRC she found the other manager’s Supermac’s comment “inappropriate and offensive”.

Earlier that day, the woman said she had informed the hotel’s general manager she was pregnant and was due to have her baby over Christmas.

Later the woman said she was called to the general manager’s office where a HR and training executive was waiting with the general manager. The woman alleged the HR executive told her at the meeting that they could not afford to keep her position any longer and that she was being made redundant.

The general manager told the WRC it would be 'ludicrous' for him to make an employee redundant after being informed of her pregnancy

The woman argued that a genuine redundancy situation did not exist and the dismissal was simply a convenient means for dealing with her pregnancy. She stated that the hotel’s actions caused her significant stress, upset and distress. She had wanted and needed to work until commencing her maternity leave and then return to work after maternity leave.

The woman had only commenced work at the hotel on April 3rd, 2017.

In response, the hotel categorically denied the woman was dismissed because she was pregnant.

Miscarriage

In evidence, the woman confirmed that she informed her employer on July 20th, 2017, that she had a miscarriage. The woman confirmed that she was not informed by a medical practitioner of the miscarriage, but she thought she had miscarried at the time.

The woman accepted that her employer genuinely believed that she had miscarried. She said she did not inform her employer about the pregnancy until September 5th, 2017.

The hotel said the woman did not inform management of her pregnancy on September 5th and the decision to make her redundant was made on August 28th. The general manager claimed she did not tell him she was pregnant on September 5th and she did not look pregnant.

The general manager told the WRC it would be “ludicrous” for him to make an employee redundant after being informed of her pregnancy. He stated that currently there are seven female staff members pregnant and they all are able to negotiate the process.

The general manager further stated that the decision to make the bar manager redundant was made two weeks prior to September 5th, 2017, and the only information the hotel had at the time was that she had had a miscarriage.

The hotel stated that the decision to dismiss the woman was taken solely on economic grounds and unrelated to pregnancy.

Difficult pregnancy

The bar manager submitted that she had a somewhat difficult pregnancy which caused her absence from work in May, June and July, 2017.

In her findings, Ms Sobanska stated the complainant’s sick leave was fundamentally linked with her pregnancy, whether she had miscarried or not was irrelevant, and the hotel was fully aware of that.

Ms Sobanska stated that the hotel did not proffer sufficient evidence to show that the dismissal was not related to the bar manager’s pregnancy and its consequences.

Ordering the hotel to pay the €14,000, Ms Sobanska stated “whilst such discrimination might well merit a higher award, I have given consideration to the relatively short tenure of the complainant’s employment”.