Pregnant Dublin Gift Shop Employee Wins Discrimination Case Against Her Employer

While working at a gift shop in Dublin, Ireland, Anne-Marie Walsh was told to stay at home after she was pregnant. She then filed a discrimination case against her employer and won. She was compensated with €5000 by the adjudication officer.

Her appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission was that she was treated unjustly based on her gender. She was being made to do all the heavy lifting, and her hours were cut as well. There were also other claims she made about her employer apart from discrimination. Adjudication officer Niamh O'Carroll Kelly learned that Walsh was discriminated against on the grounds of gender. The Dublin gift shop had seven female colleagues who were not pregnant and a male co-worker who was never told they shouldn't be working.

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Walsh said that after she got pregnant, she was asked not to work by her employer, and her hours were also reduced. Sometimes, she received phone calls asking her not to come to work due to her condition. She added that the same treatment was given to another pregnant girl. However, her other male or female workers weren't treated this way. Whenever she was around, the employer made sure that she got to do all the heavy lifting, forcing her to leave the job.

After her maternity leave, Walsh said she emailed her boss to inform him that she was fit enough to work again. The owner informed her before this (i.e. during her maternity leave in May 2018), that the shop was closing due to high rents and low sales, as well as staffing issues. Yet the employer had four shops. He advised her to go on the dole, but he was still having the Tallaght unit working. Walsh was skeptical of his claims, though she was aware of the closure of two shops- one before her maternity leave and one after her maternity leave. Yet she still had doubts about the remaining shop being under new ownership. Kelly had gone through the emails of the duo and concluded that the owner’s claim of financial difficulties during her maternity leave was valid.

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Though Walsh’s claim of discrimination against owing to her family status as she wasn't a parent at the time was dismissed by Kelly, her complaint on gender grounds was valid. In another charge concerning redundancy pay, Kelly had said she was satisfied that the worker was made redundant, although the exact date of the closure was not known. She said the woman is entitled to a payment based on a weekly wage of €370.

Gender bias is a common problem faced by female employees globally. Despite different regulations, it becomes unbearable for some during pregnancy. Walsh was courageous enough not to accept her employer treating her in a biased manner- and her act is commendable.

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