European & International News

Belgian worker suffers discrimination as a result of pregnancy

[Belgium, 4 August 2011] The City Hall of Namur in Belgium has been punished by the Labour Court for discriminating against an employee as a result of her pregnancy.

A woman who was employed for a short-term contract by the town of Namur, claimed that her boss showed disapproval on numerous occasions about staff pregnancy. As a result, after passing the job interview the worker chose to hide her pregnancy. When her contract finished in 2008, the City Hall refused to offer her an extension.

The City Hall claimed that they decided not to extend the contract not because of the woman’s pregnancy, but because of an negative assessment report of the employee. They refute accusations that the City Hall of Namur has ever discriminated against mothers and women.

The Court considered that the town did not provide sufficient proof that no discrimination took place. It considered that this case revealed "a distinction based on pregnancy, childbirth or maternity [...] assimilated to a distinction based on gender". The employee was awarded a sum equivalent to 6 month’s salary as compensation.

This case is one of the many complaints around pregnancy discrimination that has been made to the Institute for Equality between Women and Men. In 2010, the Institute registered 42 complaints related to this issue.

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