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8. Can an employer refuse to employ a job applicant because she is pregnant?

The following acts may be considered as pregnancy discrimination:

  • an employer refuses to hire a pregnant woman (but not because her qualifications or capabilities are inadequate for the job);
  • an employer dismisses a pregnant woman, or transfers her to a lower paying position;
  • an employer dismisses a woman on her return from maternity leave.

It is unlawful to discriminate against a job applicant because she is pregnant ( section 8 of the SDO). If a pregnant woman is the best qualified candidate, she should be selected for the job. However, if the position is a temporary one that requires the work to be done within a short period of time, it may be reasonable for the employer not to employ a pregnant applicant.

There is a case study about pregnancy discrimination on the Equal Opportunities Commission website.