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Dismissal of pregnant employee was justified

April 2010 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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Employers are allowed to terminate a pregnant employee’s employment if able to prove redundancy due to a decline in orders. This is shown by a judgment from the Danish Western High Court.

If an employer decides to terminate a pregnant employee's employment, the burden of proving that the termination is not pregnancy related will be on the employer. In this case from the Western High Court, the employer succeeded in discharging the burden.  

The case concerned a woman, the only employee on a permanent contract at a jeweller's. Six months into her employment, she told her employer that she was pregnant. About one month later the jeweller decided to terminate her contract, citing financial difficulties. The employee sued, claiming unfair dismissal.  

No breach of the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women
The Court found for the jeweller, satisfied the jeweller had proved that while turnover had been the same for several years, gross profits had fallen by more than 10% due to an increase in the cost of materials. Having regard to the fact that the jeweller had taken a pay cut himself, the Court held that it had been necessary to restructure the business by dismissing staff and the dismissal was therefore not pregnancy related in any way.