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Swedish milkmaid sues jobs agency over 'pregnancy' snub

Swedish milkmaid sues jobs agency over 'pregnancy' snub

Published: 06 May 2011 11:29 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 May 2011 11:29 GMT+02:00

A Swedish milkmaid who was denied employment at a dairy farm in southern Sweden over suspicions she may be trying to get pregnant should be compensated by the country's employment agency, Sweden's eqality watchdog claims.

According to Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO), the woman deserves to be awarded damages of 300,000 kronor ($48,252) from the National Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) after they had advised the farmer not to employ her, causing her to lose out on a full-time job.

The woman had been assigned a traineeship at the milk farm via the Employment Agency in 2009.

While working at the farm, she expressed her desire to continue as a full-time employee. But when she told the farmer she had suffered a miscarriage in May 2009, her employee terminated her traineeship.

In subsequent conversations, which the woman recorded, the farmer said he didn’t want to hire someone who wanted children because of the complications and expense involved in finding a replacement during parental leave.

The woman took her case to DO, which represented her in a hearing before the Swedish Labour Court (Arbetsdomstolen – AD).

In January, the court found the farmer guilty of breaking Sweden’s discrimination laws as well as the country’s parental leave laws and ordered him to pay the woman 30,000 kronor in compensation.

During the proceedings, the employment officer who assigned the woman the traineeship said he would have never offered her the placement had he known she was pregnant.

The officer also admitted under oath that he had actively advised the farmer against employing the woman, saying that the environment was ‘too dangerous’ for a pregnant woman.

As a result of the man’s statement, the woman also reported the National Employment Office to the Equality Ombudsman for discrimination.

According to the Ombudsman the Employent Agency have treated the woman unfairly and they are demanding damages of 300,000 kronor.

The large amount, the Ombudsman is hoping, will be a 'real deterrent' to other similar cases.

The Employment Agency was due to answer the Ombudsman by Wednesday May 4th, but they have put in for a respite.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:38 May 6, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
What are the dangers to pregnant women? Are there really Health and Safety issues?

I'm surprised they allowed her recordings. Good for her getting the proof she needed.
14:43 May 6, 2011 by voiceofreason
Poor farmer. he is forced to hire two people to do the work of one person. It is not bad to get pregnant but it is not fair to go on parental leave just a few monthsafter being employed.
17:03 May 6, 2011 by tadchem
This poor girl was punished - not for something she had done but for something that someone else was afraid she *might* do in the future - for someone else's fearful imaginings.
23:54 May 6, 2011 by Stickeroo
What employer in the right mind would hire someone that is "going to become pregnant"? I wouldn't do it either, call it whatever you want but that's just stupid business sense.
15:15 May 8, 2011 by GLO
This is just NUTS, you cant run a business with these kind of rules.....
16:11 May 8, 2011 by StockholmSam
Why is there no law that stipulates an employee only gets the benefits of mamaledig after a certain amount of time worked, say 1.5 years or 2 years? That seems at least a bit more fair to the employers. As long as some women continue to pull this kid of crap, the job market for young women will suffer because employers will be less-inclined to hire them.
17:15 May 8, 2011 by jamesblish
I completely agree with the previous poster. 2 years seems decent.
03:19 May 9, 2011 by Da Goat
What a clever girl, bluffing the poor farmer and employment guy she collects 330 000 kronor two years wages for two months work.

yeah I am not sure milking cows is good for pregnant ladies (not say they can't they did in the old days) just seems a little risky ! any how she can take her winnings and have her baby in peace and quiet, we should keep an eye on her and if she does it again or does not produce the baby then the farmer etc should claim their money back again!
14:32 May 9, 2011 by Grindsprint
This is awful. She is using that farmer and costing him money. We should really look all those crazy labor laws over.
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