Employers may not dismiss pregnant women with reference to general cutbacks

Date 14 jan. 2009

The cases in brief

One of the cases concerned a female real estate agent who was dismissed during her maternity leave with reference to her department being closed.


The other case concerned a woman who was employed in a furniture store and was responsible for the paint department. The employer dismissed the woman two weeks after she had informed him of her pregnancy. The reason given for the termination was that the departments were to be merged. The employer had not formerly indicated that he was dissatisfied with the employee or that a merger of the departments was to take place.


In both cases, the courts reached the decision that both women were competent to continue their work in another department or in another position.


Rules applying on equal treatment  

Section 9 of the Act on Equal Treatment states that an employer may not dismiss an employee because he or she wishes to make use of the right to absence or has been absent pursuant to Sections 6-14 of the Act on Maternity Leave, or otherwise, due to pregnancy, childbirth or adoption.


The ruling of Horsens City Court  

The court stated that the termination of the real estate agent was in contravention of the Act on Equal Treatment. The court attached importance to the fact that the employer could have employed her in another position, since the employee had longer seniority and a better education than most of her co-workers.


The decision of the Western High Court  

In the case of the woman who was employed in the furniture store, the court found that the employer had acted contrary to the Act on Equal Treatment, in that the woman was capable of continuing her job in the merged department, in which there were no financial problems.


The rulings show that employers may not dismiss pregnant employees solely with reference to cutbacks when they have the possibility of employing them in another department. This will be in contravention of the Act on Equal Treatment.


If you have questions for the above or require additional information on differential treatment at the labour market, please contact attorney Dan Moalem (dmo@mwblaw.dk) or attorney Christina Lund (clu@mwblaw.dk).


The above does not constitute legal counselling, and Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen does not warrant the accuracy of the information. With the above text, Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen has not assumed responsibility of any kind as a consequence of a reader’s use of the above as a basis of decisions or considerations.