Gender Dismissal Discrimination

Discrimination in any form is not acceptable and there are a number of posts on our website with information on discrimination, disability discrimination etc. within an employment law context.

In this post we discuss one of the prohibited grounds set out in the Equality Acts.

This is the Gender ground.

Employees who are pregnant can find themselves subject to discrimination at work.

Discrimination occurs where on person is treated unfavourably than another person on one of the grounds set out in the Equality Acts, in this case under the Gender Ground.

This post gives the person an idea of one legal protection available to an employee who is pregnant.

gender dismissal discrimination

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An employee who is pregnant enjoys special protection in law and there are strong legal protections in place for such an employee.

The law on this matter in an employment contract is set out under a number of separate legislative acts but this post solely discussions one legal protection for the employee under the Equality Acts.

If you feel you have been discriminated against at work for such an issue, we will endeavour to answer any questions you have.

Legal protections to such employees in an employment context is not only protection against dismissal.

An employee who is pregnant cannot be treated adversely on the grounds of their pregnancy and gender discrimination is prohibited by the Equality Acts legislation.

There is special protection afforded to a pregnant employee at European and hence Irish law and in Webb v EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd [1994] ECR 1-3567, Brown v Rentokil Ltd [1998] ECR 1-04185 and Dekker v Stichting Vormingscentrum [1990] ECR 1-3941 it was concluded that the entire period of pregnancy and maternity is considered a special protected period.

If an employer was to dismiss a pregnant employee during this time period then they would need very persuasive evidence the dismissal was wholly unrelated to the pregnancy.

The burden of proof in these matters is on the employer to demonstrate the dismissal related to exceptional circumstances wholly unrelated to the maternity leave or pregnancy itself.

If a case officer comes to a decision that discrimination arose, they will likely consider the effects of the discrimination on the person, and have due regard to Article 17 of the framework directive which states the sanction should be ‘’effective, dissuasive, and proportionate’’ which can include higher awards for discrimination cases.


Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute. Legal advice should be obtained from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.

Gender Dismissal Discrimination

Employment Law Articles

Roger Cleary

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