Caution When Criteria Selects Pregnant Women For Redundancy

Author:Ms Alicia Compton
Profession:William Fry Solicitors
 
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Employers need to ensure that the selection criteria used inredundancies are clear and objective, to counter any allegation ofunfair selection or discrimination which may arise. In a recentdecision the Labour Court awarded €20,000 to a pregnantwoman who was selected for redundancy.The Court found that the matrix which had been used wasunsatisfactory as it was "complex, opaque, subjective and opento manipulation in order to achieve a particular result". Asthe employer could not clearly show that the selection of theemployee was not on the grounds of the pregnancy the Court decidedthat the employer had discriminated against the employee on thegrounds of gender and family status, and that a discriminatorydismissal had occurred.The matrix involved a number of criteria of which five wererelevant:skills and experience in current role;occupation and qualifications;cooperativeness;commitment and using own initiative; andfuture potential.The employee, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, wasinformed that she was the person chosen for redundancy as thelowest scoring individual on the matrix. She was notified that shecould appeal but she did not.The employee referred a claim to the Equality Tribunal that shehad been discriminated against on the grounds of gender and familystatus under the Equality Acts. The Equality Tribunal held that theemployer discriminated against the employee and awarded her€30,000 in compensation. The employer then appealed thedecision to the Labour Court which established, among othermatters, that:the basis for the matrix and its method of calculation was notclear;the rules around...

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