The Plaintiffs, Ms. Stanley and Ms. Poppy (case available here), each claimed that their employer discriminated against them due to their pregnancies. Both were made redundant from the same organization while on parental leave, about two years apart. Both of the Plaintiffs’ positions were eliminated by their employer due to a reorganization of the employer’s management structure. In both cases, the Plaintiffs’ absence from work caused their employer to conclude that their positions were no longer required. In particular, when Stanley and Poppy went on parental leave, their job duties were redistributed to colleagues. This caused their employer to decide that Stanley and Poppy’s positions were redundant. In both cases, the Federal Court found that the employer would not have restructured its management in this way if the Plaintiffs had not taken maternity leave. Because the restructuring involved only those employees working at the time it occurred, the fact that the Plaintiffs were on maternity leave (and thus not present) disadvantaged them. However, the Federal Court found that Plaintiffs’ dismissals did not constitute discrimination because neither Plaintiff could show that the employer treated them any differently than it would an employee who was not pregnant or on leave in similar circumstances.
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