The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched its first pregnancy discrimination case in the Federal Court, with more women expected to approach the Ombudsman with an awareness campaign.
The FWO will allege that when a 36-year-old Chinese-born mother of one informed the company last year that she was pregnant, she was told she might not be able to return to her position as office/clerical worker and that a second person would be recruited for her to train.
About a week after returning to work, the woman was allegedly told her pregnancy had “caused inconvenience” for the company and as a consequence she needed to “accept” that a second employee had been engaged.
Despite being subsequently offered a position in another store, the woman was later informed she should “appreciate having a job” and the company was very upset she had complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Court documents allege that within a month of that conversation, the woman received a letter advising her that her employment would end three days before Christmas on December 22.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Leigh Johns says the Agency is seeking penalties against the company and its directors for alleged contraventions of workplace law and compensation for the former employee for her losses.
The Fair Work Ombudsman also announced today that it will conduct a national campaign aimed at helping women avoid pregnancy discrimination at work.
About 100,000 information packs will be sent to hospitals, GPs and other health service providers in metropolitan and regional areas throughout Australia.
The packs contain magazines and pamphlets detailing the workplace rights of pregnant women, what constitutes pregnancy discrimination, the harm pregnancy discrimination can cause and how the Fair Work Ombudsman can help women who experience it.
“We want women to be aware of their rights so they can identify when they are being subjected to pregnancy discrimination and know they can turn to the Fair Work Ombudsman for help. Impending parenthood should be met with delight, not discrimination,” Mr Johns says.