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You can legally deny a pregnant employee a promotion!

by , 23 August 2016
You can legally deny a pregnant employee a promotion!We all know there are numerous grounds for unfair discrimination in the workplace, and it's also common knowledge that pregnancy is one of those grounds.

But, it may come as a surprise to find out that you can legally deny a pregnant employee a promotion, even if you originally agreed to one! That's right! Even the courts have shown you can!

Take a look at the following case Whitehead v Woolworths (2000) 21 ILJ 571 LAC and (1999) 20 ILJ 2133 to learn more...


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It is possible to legally deny a pregnant employee a promotion! See for yourself  

CASE: Whitehead v Woolworths (2000) 21 ILJ 571 LAC and (1999) 20 ILJ 2133:

What were the facts?

In this case, the applicant had been offered a full-time position at Woolworths. But only a few days later, the position had been withdrawn from her and replaced with a five-month fixed-term contract.

The reason for this withdrawal and change was Whitehead's pregnancy which came to the employer's attention in the interim.

The Labour Court stated that an employer can't discriminate against an employee solely because she'll take maternity leave shortly after appointment. This would be the case unless the employer could prove the job she's hired for must be completed within nine months.

What happened next?

Surprisingly, the Labour Appeal Court disagreed with the Labour Court here, and stated the requirement continuous service actually justified the discrimination against Whitehead.

It was shown that Woolworths was experiencing problems at the time and that the nature of the job in fact required uninterrupted continuity of service for a period between 12 to 18 months.

Keep reading to see what you can learn from this case…

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What can you learn from this case?

Discrimination, in a situation like the one above, can be justifiable if you can prove the desperate need for continuous service, which would be badly interrupted when the employee left for maternity leave.

But it's very important to keep in mind that the Courts also emphasised that any discrimination against a pregnant employee in the workplace would rarely be justifiable. SO don't get ahead of yourself, and always seek expert legal advice first. 

PS: Get your hands on the Ultimate Guide to Maternity Leave, to learn how to effectively manage pregnant employees in the workplace.  

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