Woman awarded £28k in dismissal case

A pregnant woman who lost her job at a Tandragee firm has been awarded almost £28,000 after winning an unfair dismissal case.

Laura Gruzdaite was awarded £28,000 in a pregnancy discrimination case
Laura Gruzdaite was awarded £28,000 in a pregnancy discrimination case
Laura Gruzdaite was awarded £28,000 in a pregnancy discrimination case

Laura Gruzdaite lost her job at McGrane Nurseries Ltd in 2018.

The Equality Commission supported her case to the Industrial Tribunal, alleging unlawful discrimination because she was dismissed for a reason relating to her pregnancy and because she was treated adversely following the announcement of her pregnancy.

The Industrial Tribunal found unanimously in Ms Gruzdaite’s favour and awarded her £27,917.60.

When Laura and her husband started work at McGrane Nurseries Ltd, Co Armagh, in January 2018, she was given a blank contract to sign, specifically with no start or end dates.

She believed she was coming to Northern Ireland for a permanent job but at no point was she told that this was to be a seasonal job.

The employer accepted that they failed to pay Laura for her time off attending the ante natal appointments. The Tribunal found that a manager was less friendly to Laura after she announced her pregnancy.

The Tribunal 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.”

He pointed out: “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.