Three women receive pregnancy discrimination settlements

Credit: PA

Three women who claimed they were subjected to workplace pregnancy or maternity-related discrimination have received settlements totalling £15,500.

The cases were settled before reaching an Industrial Tribunal.

Sarah Shilliday applied for a job at RJN Chemicals and at the interview her family circumstances and childcare responsibilities were discussed.

She later received an email from the firm which commented favourably on her suitability, but said, "sadly I'm afraid our personal arrangements with the new baby will make it impossible to carry out this role".

Ms Shilliday said she was "really upset" as "it clearly indicated that the fact I had a child had influenced the decision not to appoint me".

"I could have accepted not getting the job if that was because I wasn't the best candidate, but to have the opportunity denied because I am a mother is not acceptable," she added.

Her case was settled for £3,000.

A second case involved a pregnant woman Kelly McAtamney, whose doctor advised her she needed to "stay off her feet" as much as possible.

She alleged her employer Medi Cosmetics was unwilling to adjust her duties to accommodate this.

She said, "When they would not allow me to sit down to perform my duties and when, failing that, a request for a period of maternity suspension was also refuse, I had no option but to continue on sick leave.

"Subsequently I felt I had to resign," she said.

While the company admitted no liability, they settled the case for £4,500.

Cherie White, who held a number of temporary roles at IFA (Irish Football Association) believed that she was not considered for a permanent post due to being on maternity leave.

She received a settlement of £8,000 with no admission of liability from the IFA.

As part of the settlement terms each of the companies agreed to meet with the Equality Commission to review their policies, practices and procedures on equality of opportunity.

Eileen Lavery, Head of Advice, Compliance and Legal at the Equality Commission described workplace pregnancy discrimination as a "persistent problem" and "the most common cause of complaint on the grounds of gender made to the Equality Commission".