Pregnancy sacking ruled to be unfair: Landmark victory in European Court
Friday 15 July 1994
The court said that the dismissal of Carole Webb, 25, a clerk, by EMO Air Cargo, violated EU principles on the equal treatment of men and women at work.
Its decision may now open the way for her to claim compensation against her former employer.
Mrs Webb, of West Drayton in west London, was sacked in 1987 two weeks after joining the firm having being taken on to replace another woman who was about to start maternity leave.
Kamlesh Bahl, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said the ruling would have far-reaching implications for companies, which would have to look again at the way they treated pregnant women. 'The EOC has a long-term aim of securing a fairer deal for pregnant women in the workplace and this case will contribute significantly to achieving that aim,' she said.
'It will have major implications for employers, who will need to change their employment culture and practices and follow the lead of those progressive employers who already recognise the valuable contribution women make in the workplace and the economy.'
Mrs Webb, who now has two children, began her seven-year legal battle by taking her case to an industrial tribunal - with the help of the Hillingdon Legal Resource Centre in west London. Although she lost, she appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. When she lost there, she took her case to the Court of Appeal.
Although she lost again at the Court of Appeal, she was given leave to appeal to the House of Lords, which referred her case to the European Court of Justice.
The case will now go back to the Lords so that peers can consider it in the light of yesterday's ruling.
Mrs Webb told the BBC One O'Clock News yesterday: 'I am very pleased and very relieved. I have waited a long time - seven years - but it is going to give women the right to take companies to court.'
The ruling was also welcomed by John Monks, the TUC general secretary. 'Employers will now have to accept that pregnancy is a normal part of women's lives and that they can't use pregnancy as an excuse for treating women any differently to men when they take personnel decisions,' he said.
Michael Forsyth, the employment minister, said he did not think the ruling would have wider implications for British women as they were already protected by legislation passed last year.
He told BBC Radio: 'The 1993 legislation already makes it automatically unfair to dismiss a woman on grounds of pregnancy, or even to select a woman for
redundancy because of pregnancy. That now applies to every woman who is pregnant and whose child is expected after 16 October this year.'
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...