A recent Workplace Relations Commission decision found that a former client service executive was not dismissed from her employment because of her pregnancy.
The claimant was employed as a client service executive in September 2016 – the first six months were on a probationary period. On the 10 April 2017, the claimant attended a review meeting during which she was informed that she had not passed her probation and that her employment would terminate on the 10 April 2017. The claimant subsequently brought an unfair dismissal claim to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The claimant alleged that there was no discussion of her work at the review meeting on the 10 April 2017 nor was she given an opportunity in the meeting to discuss the comments previously made by her immediate line manager in which he praised her work. The claimant contended that she was dismissed because she had informed her employer of her pregnancy on the 28 February 2017.
The respondent denied that the claimant had been dismissed as a result of her pregnancy. The respondent stated that the claimant had attended a number of review meetings over the course of her probationary period, the first of which took place on the 22 December 2016. The respondent expressed concerns in the meeting in relation to the claimant’s unacceptable level of errors in her work and the Respondent identified several improvements to be made to the claimant’s work.
A second review meeting took place on the 14 February 2017 in which it was noted that the claimant had improved but that there was still an unacceptable level of errors with her work. The claimant was advised in the meeting that her performance would need to improve in order to pass her probation. On the 16 February 2017 the claimant received training focusing on her knowledge gaps. The respondent submitted to the WRC that throughout March 2017 ongoing support was provided to the claimant to enable her to improve her work performance.
The respondent also submitted to the WRC that it did address the issues with the claimant’s performance in the review meeting on the 10 April 2017. The respondent asked the claimant in the meeting on the 10 April 2017 if she wanted to discuss the issues with her work performance, but the claimant refused to engage and declined the offer to reconvene the meeting.
The adjudication officer noted that the claimant had been on notice of the uncertainty of her position, that passing her six months’ probationary period was dependent on identifiable significant improvements in her performance and that the claimant did not challenge the respondent’s analysis of her work, particularly in the meeting on the 22 December 2016. The adjudication officer also noted that the respondent did not deny its knowledge of the claimant’s pregnancy nor did the claimant allege that the respondent’s behaviour had changed towards her after announcing her pregnancy.
Accordingly, the adjudication officer found that the claimant’s dismissal was not wholly or mainly due to her pregnancy and her unfair dismissal claim was dismissed.