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.