Public Defender Establishes Discrimination in Employment Relationship on Grounds of Pregnancy

On January 21, 2022, the Public Defender addressed the Director of IB Mthiebi Ltd. with a recommendation relating to discrimination in the employment relationship on the ground of pregnancy.

A history teacher of the IB Mthiebi private school, a few days after she informed her employer of her pregnancy and desire to take maternity leave, was told that she could no longer arrive at school to give lessons, which was explained by the dissatisfaction expressed by the students' parents regarding her teaching methods.

In a position submitted to the Public Defender, the respondent stated that the school had not terminated employment relationship with the applicant and that they had only temporarily suspended her authority until making a final decision after hearing the opinions of the students, parents and the applicant herself.

After analyzing the parties' positions and legal standards, the Public Defender found that the employment relationship between the parties had been terminated from the moment when the applicant, at the instruction of a representative of the school, stopped arriving at school; The temporary suspension of the employment was put on the agenda only after the applicant applied to the Public Defender.

The above raises suspicions that changing the decision on the termination of employment served to disguise the discriminatory treatment and to avoid liability. In addition, given the increased risk of dismissal of pregnant women on discriminatory grounds, the Public Defender considered it suspicious that the time of the termination of the employment coincided with the applicant’s pregnancy.

The Public Defender stated in her recommendation that the refusal of IB Mthiebi Ltd to continue employment relationship with the applicant was related to her pregnancy and called on the respondent to refrain from discriminatory treatment based on pregnancy or other grounds in labour relations and to be guided by the principle of equality when carrying out its activities in the future.

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