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Sex discrimination: Dismissal for pregnancy-related illness not discriminatory

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Brown v Rentokil Ltd [1995] IRLR 211 CS (1 other report)

    • Return of the sick man

      1 May 1995

      In Brown v Rentokil Ltd (18 January 1995) EOR61A, the Inner House of the Scottish Court of Session rules that even after the European Court's decision in Webb, there is no sex discrimination against a pregnant woman dismissed as a result of absence due to a pregnancy-related illness if she is treated the same way as a man absent through illness.

Dismissing a woman while she was pregnant, in accordance with the employer's sickness absence rules, was not an act of sex discrimination under either UK or EC law, holds the Court of Session in Brown v Rentokil Ltd, even though the employee's illness was directly due to her pregnancy.

In the final Guidance Note of our recent series on maternity rights, we examined the issue of sex discrimination as it relates to pregnancy and maternity. In particular, we highlighted that, as far as EC discrimination law is concerned, the European Court of Justice takes the view that if a woman is treated less favourably because she is pregnant this amounts to sex discrimination, regardless of how a man would have been treated had his employment had similar consequences to those arising from the woman's pregnancy - Webb v EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd [1993] IRLR 27 (HL); [1994] IRLR 482 (ECJ).