Dismissed shortly after having informed about his wife's pregnancy

Dismissal of an employee was in contravention of the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women as regards Access to Employment and Maternity Leave because the employee had shortly before informed that his wife was pregnant.

The case involved an employee (E) who was working as an engine builder. In the autumn of 2014, E asked for permission from his employer to return on a full-time schedule and informed at the same occasion that his wife was expecting their second child. However, less than a month later, E received a termination letter from his employer explaining that due to unsatisfactory sales results it was necessary to make cost savings in the form of a staff reduction in the production. However, E was of the opinion that the dismissal was in contravention of the prohibition against dismissal due to pregnancy.

The Danish Board of Equal Treatment had regard to the fact that the employer needed to make cost savings. On the date of dismissal, two engine builders were employed, one of them being E. Therefore, the question was to determine whether the pregnancy of his wife played a part in the decision to dismiss specifically E.

The Board did not find it substantiated that - as claimed by the employer - E's colleague worked 10-12 per cent faster than E. Furthermore, the employer had not taken E's information into consideration that the calculation of E's production rate did not take into account that E had been working reduced hours and that he was participating in a data collection programme which took up a substantial part of his working time. Bearing this in mind as well as the fact that E had been dismissed less than one month after having informed the employer of his wife's pregnancy, the Board of Equal Treatment was not satisfied that the pregnancy of E's wife did not play a part - wholly or partly - in the decision to dismiss E.

Consequently, the employee was awarded compensation in the amount of DKK 175,000 equivalent to nine months' salary.

The judgment - which appears quite strict - underlines once more that very specific evidence must be provided to prove that an employee has been selected for dismissal due to other circumstances than imminent parenthood.

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