The case of Ms. Paulina Knapczyk and Aveo Foods EDA2222 concerned an appeal by Aveo Foods Limited of decision ADJ-00026176 of an Adjudication Officer in a claim by Ms Paulina Knapczyk that her employer discriminated against her when they dismissed her during her pregnancy. The Workplace Relations Commission had found that the complaint was well-founded and awarded Ms Knapczyk compensation in the amount of €10,000 and recommended that the Respondent re-write a section of its employee handbook. Evidence was given by both sides including whether the employer was aware that Ms Knapczyk was pregnant at the time of dismissal.
The Court accepted on balance that the complainant’s supervisor did ask the complainant about being pregnant and found that
“the complainant had established that she was pregnant, that her supervisor was aware that she was pregnant and that her pregnancy could be within the range of reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the facts which led to her dismissal. The Court finds that the Complainant has established a prima facia case of discrimination and therefore the burden of proof shifts to the Respondent to establish that her dismissal was for reasons unrelated to her pregnancy”.
The Court also observed that “……if a woman is dismissed during her pregnancy the employer must cite duly substantiated grounds in writing for her dismissal. In the case to hand the Complainant was not told at her dismissal meeting or subsequently provided with grounds for her dismissal in writing. Having told the Respondent at that meeting that she was pregnant she did later that day in response to an email she sent receive an email from Ms Mulholland confirming she would be provided with detailed reasons for her dismissal. However, same never materialised. Taking the fact that the Court did not hear from the decision makers in relation to the decision to dismiss and that the Respondent did not provide duly substantiated reasons for the dismissal as required, the Court finds that the Respondent has failed to satisfy the Court that the Complainants pregnancy was not a relevant factor incoming to the decision to dismiss”.
The Court concluded that the Complainant was dismissed by reason of her pregnancy and was therefore discriminatorily dismissed. The complainant was awarded 24 weeks salary or €10,000.