The operator of the everymum.ie online parenting community has been ordered to pay €32,500 compensation to its former group sales manager for her discriminatory pregnancy dismissal.
This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Hugh Lonsdale ordering Zahra Publishing Limited, trading as Zahra, to pay Sandra Varian €32,500 for her gender discriminatory dismissal related to her pregnancy in December 2021.
The Bray based Zahra publishes easyFood magazine and the everymum.ie website which aims to connect, inform, support and celebrate every mother in Ireland.
In his findings, Mr Lonsdale found that Ms Varian’s dismissal falls within the category of being related to her pregnancy and is therefore discriminatory on the grounds of gender.
He said that Ms Varian would have had her probationary period extended if she had not been going on maternity leave and this would have been an opportunity to convert some of the business in the pipeline and develop new business in the new year.
In the case, Ms Varian started working for Zahra on July 1st, 2021, and her contract stated she had a six-month probationary period finishing on December 31st, 2021.
Ms Varian stated that she informed the CEO that she was 12 weeks pregnant on August 5th, 2021 and due to commence maternity leave on January 29th, 2022.
According to the employer, Ms Varian rang the CEO and said he was going to be surprised, shocked and unhappy that she was announcing her pregnancy so soon after starting.
The employer stated that the CEO congratulated her and said he was surprised but was genuinely happy for her.
The CEO asked how long she would take for her maternity leave and the complainant indicated she would start her maternity leave in January 2022.
Mr Lonsdale stated that the first performance issue was raised on September 21st and this was followed by a series of meetings which ended when Ms Varian’s employment was terminated on December 13th, 2021.
When Ms Varian started she was given a year 1 target for the period June 2021 to December 2021 of €250,000 for new/repeat business and this was reduced to €225,000, by agreement, to give her more time to become familiar with the respondent’s products.
The year 2 target was €750,000 and following meetings with Ms Varian about her performance the year 1 target was reduced on November 18th 2021 to €100,000, to be achieved by December 13th, 2021.
Mr Lonsdale said that the evidence was that Ms Varian's sales figures were low, when compared to the targets set by Zahra and there were other issues about the quality of her presentations.
Mr Lonsdale stated that Ms Varian said the job was not what she had expected but otherwise accepted she had adequate training and appears to have offered no other explanations for her low performance.
The adjudicator stated that Zahra twice reduced the targets, but there was no improvement in Ms Varian’s figures.
Mr Lonsdale stated that Zahra dismissed Ms Varian within her six-month probationary period and there was no discussion about extending the probationary period.
Mr Lonsdale said Ms Varian had a lot of business in the pipeline and her probationary period would have been extended if she was not pregnant.
The employer stated that Ms Varian was dismissed during her probationary period on account of her poor performance, specifically the poor sales generated.
Zahra further submitted that Ms Varian had not established a prima facie case for discrimination.