Du Bois-Hammond v. Ariel

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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.



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