The complainant worked as a Reservations Manager at the Raging Thunder Pty where both respondents, Cole and Ariel, were directors. The complainant became pregnant and went on maternity leave in agreement with the directors that she would return to the company at the same position after her maternity leave. Closer to the date when the complainant was about to return back from her maternity leave, she contacted Mr. Cole and discussed the possibility of returning on a part-time basis, but Mr. Cole informed her it was not possible for a managerial position to be part-time. The complainant tried to contact Mr. Cole again to inform him that she was willing to work full-time, but could not reach him, so she sent him the message through the receptionist. After several calls with Mr. Cole and without a definitive answer on her return date to work, Mr. Ariel called the complainant to inform her of a company restructuring and that her position was no longer available and that the two newly introduced positions were already filled by her colleagues. The complainant asked if they were going to offer any similar positions, but Mr. Ariel told her they had no more positions and he would not create one for her. The complainant suffered emotional distress and financial loss due to becoming redundant, therefore filed for this complaint seeking compensation. The complainant alleged that, due to her pregnancy and maternity leave, the respondents (i) failed to discuss the terms of her returning to work; (ii) failed to discuss her offer to work part-time;(iii) failed to appoint her in the new position of Call Center Manager and appointed Ms. S. instead; (iv) failed to appoint her in the new created position of 2IC and appointed Ms. G.; and, (v) failed to offer her an alternative position. The Anti-Discrimination Tribunal did not find the respondents liable for all of the complainant’s allegations, but ruled that the company and Mr. Ariel failed to offer the complainant the 2IC position after restructuring even though she was more experienced and familiar with this role than Ms. G., who was only covering for the complainant during her maternity leave. Thus, the Tribunal found that the reason for not offering this position to the complainant was due to her maternity leave. The company and Mr. Ariel also failed to offer the complainant any alternative position, again due to her maternity leave, and therefore her return was not considered while planning the restructuring of the company. The Tribunal found that respondents did not discriminate against complainant in conversations about her returning to work, in not discussing her offer to work part-time, in choosing to restructure, or in failing to appoint her in the Call Center Manager position under the Anti-Discriminatory Act 1991. However, the Tribunal did find that if complainant had not been on maternity leave at the time of the restructuring, she would have been offered the 2IC position, and that decision constituted pregnancy discrimination on the part of the first and third respondents. Also, the Tribunal found the failure to offer complainant a suitable alternative position constituted pregnancy discrimination. Therefore, the Tribunal ruled a compensation sum to be paid the complainant.
Women and Justice: Keywords
Domestic Case Law
The law governs rights associated with labor. The law grants women the right to a 60-day paid maternity leave. In contrast, fathers receive a one-day paternity leave on the day immediately following the birth of the child. The law also provides that mothers have the right to up to 30 absences from work per year in order to care for minor children who are either sick or have suffered an accident.
Pregnant employees are prohibited from working during the eight-week period prior to giving birth and the eight-week period after giving birth. During this period, the mother is entitled to receive maternity pay, which is calculated as the employee’s average earnings during the 13 weeks prior to the prohibition of work. After the prohibition period, women may take an additional period of maternity leave, up to two years after the birth of the child. During this period, a mother (or father, if he has taken paternity leave, although both parents may not take leave concurrently) will not receive remuneration through her (or his) employer, although the parent taking leave may withdraw child allowance through social insurance during this time. Pregnant employees and parents on maternity or paternity leave may not be terminated from employment during that time and for a period of four weeks after returning to work. The Act also provides regulations for the type of work pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and women who have recently given birth may do (i.e., prohibition of certain physical work and manual labor, handling of chemicals, work where the woman must sit or stand for long periods with no break) and regulations regarding the times pregnant and breastfeeding employees may work (i.e., must not work between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., nor Sundays or public holidays).