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Okay to dismiss pregnant woman for double-jobbing

June 2009 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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It is okay to dismiss an employee whose extra job takes up so much time as to risk affecting the main job - even if the employee is pregnant Employers are entitled to expect their employees not to take on any extra jobs that will affect their performance in the main job. This is shown by a new district court case.

Employers are entitled to expect their employees not to take on any extra jobs that will affect their performance in the main job. This is shown by a new district court case.

 

The case concerned an employee who was dismissed from her job as a night duty assistant at an old people's home. The local authority cited frustration of contract whereas the employee said that the reason was pregnancy.

 

The local authority had hired the woman to work 56 hours a week every other week. What it did not know was that the opposite weeks were spent working as a night duty assistant at another home. When the local authority accidentally discovered her double jobbing, she was dismissed: due to the other job, she was not really available for extra shifts in her weeks off duty as she had promised at the job interview.

 

Accused of discrimination

When she was given notice of termination, she was on sick leave: already after ending her first shift, she had informed the employer that she was pregnant and was suffering from pregnancy-related problems. The same thing happened at her other job.

 

The employee thought that her dismissal was pregnancy-related - and therefore sued the employer.

The Court dismissed the claim against the local authority, taking it for granted that a public employer will not accept double-jobbing to the extent practiced by the woman. It noted that double-jobbing reduces workforce flexibility and constitutes a health risk to the employee and therefore a risk of increasing colleagues' workload. In addition, double-jobbers are often less committed to their job. In other words, the Court was satisfied that the dismissal was not pregnancy-related at all.

 

Norrbom Vinding notes: 

  • that there was a general sense throughout the proceedings that the employee never intended to actually work the two jobs; and
  • that the case does not change the fact that the reverse burden of proof under the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women is generally difficult for an employer to discharge.

Elsebeth Aaes-Jørgensen
eaj@norrbomvinding.com

 

www.norrbomvinding.com