Employer fined €10,000 for discriminating against pregnant employee

A healthcare company from Noord-Brabant was ordered to pay 10 thousand euros in damages to a temporary employee by the court in Eindhoven early this month. The court considered it proven that company OOK Begeleiding did not extend the woman's temporary contract because she was pregnant. The company explicitly stated this on paper, RTL Nieuws reports.

Dutch law prohibits companies from using pregnancy as a reason to not extend a temporary contract. Though as employers do not have to give a reason if a temporary contract is not renewed, this could still happen.

But OOK Begeleiding explicitly mentioned pregnancy as a reason for not extending the employees contract by five months. In a reflection form, the company wrote that the employee would be on maternity leave for a large part of the extension. "Partly because of this, the organization has decided to appoint the non-renewal of the contract earlier than is legally necessary."

The judge considered this evidence enough to grant the woman in question over 10 thousand euros in damages. The text of the reflection form clearly refers to the woman's pregnancy, and this can be classified as "direct unequal treatment", the judge said. "A man would not have been treated this way."

It often happens that temporary contracts are not renewed due to a pregnancy, but as employers don't have to give a reason for not renewing a temporary contract, these cases do not end up in the media or court, Pascal Besselink of legal services provider DAS said to RTL Nieuws. Proving that pregnancy was the reason for terminating employment is often difficult, because in most cases it is not stated in black on white. "In the first instance, the employee will have to submit facts that suggest that there was discrimination. Only then is it the employer's turn and the burden of proof is reversed," he said.