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Two rulings regarding the protection of pregnant employees

Two rulings regarding the protection of pregnant employees

The Equal Treatment Act is frequently tested in Denmark with respect to the protection of pregnant employees and employees on maternity leave etc. I have outlined two recent rulings regarding the importance of the employer’s knowledge of the pregnancy.

The dismissal of a pregnant employee conflicted with the Equal Treatment Act although the employer was not informed of the pregnancy 

The Danish Supreme Court has recently ruled that the dismissal of a pregnant employee was in conflict with the Equal Treatment Act even though the employer was not informed of the pregnancy. The employee was dismissed after 2 months’ employment due to sickness leave. The sick leave was due to pregnancy-related illness. However, the employer was not informed of the pregnancy.

The Supreme Court found that the said Act also protects against dismissal due to pregnancy-related absence even though the employer did not know or ought to have known about the pregnancy. However, compensation shall only be paid if the employer does not offer to reverse his decision to dismiss when he is informed of the pregnancy and the reason for the absence.

The ruling shows that if the dismissal is due to sick leave which is related to the pregnancy, the dismissal may conflict with the said Act even though the employer was not informed of the pregnancy.

The dismissal of a pregnant employee before the employer was informed of the pregnancy did not conflict with the Equal Treatment Act

Recently, the Board of Equal Treatment has assessed a case where the employee informed the employer of the pregnancy three days after the employer had decided to dismiss her. The Board ruled that the dismissal was not in conflict with the Equal Treatment Act due to the fact that the decision was made before the employer was informed of the pregnancy. Thus, the Board assessed that the pregnancy did not play any role in the decision and, therefore, the dismissal was not in conflict with the said Act.

This decision shows that if an employer decides to dismiss an employee before he is informed about her pregnancy, he is not obliged to reverse the decision when he is informed of the pregnancy. However, as it appears from the Supreme Court ruling above this is not always the case.

You are most welcome to contact us for any further queries and you may contact our senior associate, attorney-at-law Mrs. Anja Bülow Jensen.

Anja Bülow Jensen

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