Three Northern Irish women have received settlements totalling £15,500 after it was found they were subjected to pregnancy or maternity discrimination in their workplaces.
One woman was told, following a job interview, that her ‘personal arrangements with the new baby will make it impossible to carry out this role’.
Another woman had her case settled by the Irish Football Association (IFA).
The Equality Commission says that in workplaces throughout Northern Ireland, pregnant women are still being ‘penalised’.
The three women were helped by The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to make their claims separately.
The women, Sarah Shilliday, Cherie White and Kelly McAtamney all accepted financial settlements, meaning that their cases were all resolved before making it to industrial tribunals.
Ms Shilliday said that when she was being interviewed for a management job with the company RJN Chemicals, one of the topics of discussion during her interview was about her ‘childcare’ responsibilities.
Following the interview, she said that she received an email from the company in which they spoke positively about how she was suited to the management position at the firm. She said that despite this, the email finished by informing her that because of the ‘personal arrangements’ that she was going to have with a baby on the way made it ‘impossible’ for her to be offered the job.
Speaking of her reaction to the email, and how it had upset her, she said: ‘I was really upset when I received this email as it clearly indicated that the fact I had a child had influenced the decision not to appoint me’, adding: ‘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 settled her case for £3,000.
The second woman, Kelly McAtamney, brought a case against Medi Cosmetics, for whom Ms McAtamney worked as a beauty therapist. At the time of her pregnancy, Ms McAtamney was at risk of miscarriage.
She said that the company were not accommodating to her having to follow doctor’s advice to stay off her feet as often as possible.
She said that maternity suspension was also refused for her, saying that she was forced to stay on sick leave, and that because of this she felt like she had to resign.
Ms McAtamney received £4,500 in compensation, with Medi Cosmetics not admitting liability.
Cherie White claimed number of temporary positions are the Irish Football Association, including ones which came up while she was on maternity leave, had become permanent. She said that she had worked with the IFA for several years on temporary contracts, and she felt that if she had not been on maternity leave when the posts were made permanent, she would have been considered for one of the permanent positions.
Ms White received £8,000 from the IFA, with no admission of liability.