• Sweden's news in English

Woman gets damages for pregnancy job snub

Paul O'Mahony · 31 Jul 2010, 11:17

Published: 31 Jul 2010 11:17 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In a complaint filed with the Equality Ombudsman, the woman said her employer was aware that she was pregnant when she began her work experience. She had gained two weeks of work experience at the store as part of a labour market programme when suddenly a permanent position became available in April.

Since her employer had expressed satisfaction with her work, she decided to submit a formal application for the vacancy. She was told that her pregnancy would preclude her from being considered for the position but pushed ahead with the application regardless.

Some days later she queried the matter with the owner of the store as it became clear that she wasn’t going to be called for an interview. She secretly recorded the conversation as the owner informed her that the company was too small to employ somebody who was expecting a child in August and would soon be on maternity leave.

The Equality Ombudsman agreed to take up her case and reached a settlement on her behalf. Though the electronics store denied any wrongdoing, the woman's erstwhile employer agreed to pay the woman 100,000 kronor in damages rather than pursue the matter in court.

Since January 2009 the Equality Ombudsman has reached settlements in 19 cases of discrimination related to pregnancy or parental leave.

Story continues below…

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:58 July 31, 2010 by dwb5555
I think this is sad.

The owner was correct.

She had only work there for two weeks.

I think she was just looking for a pay day.

This does nothing to help women as more owner will not hire people like her for part time work because they don't want to have to pay the money like this owner.

This sounds like worker rights gone wrong.
16:42 July 31, 2010 by Mb 65
I agree 100% with dwb. The fact that she taped the interview is enough to show that she was after a pay out. She was only doing work experience with no promise of a job at the end of it. So she was not even employed by the company. who in their right mind would employ someone who would be going on maternity leave in a few weeks.
17:09 July 31, 2010 by SarahRF
And once again common sense doesn't seem that common in Sweden...
18:54 July 31, 2010 by wxman
All other pregnant women from now on who cannot secure temporary employment can thank this golddigger.
19:28 July 31, 2010 by Canada_Girl
Pregnancy should not preclude a persons ability to get a job. If she expressed interest in the position then she should legitimately be considered.

Bias against pregnant women is a silent, rarely talked about but frequent occurrence. Even in Canada, pregnancy and discrimination go hand in hand far too frequently. There have been cases brought before the courts and employers reprimanded for their rights violations.

If she was being discriminated against why shouldn't she record their violation of her rights? It's against the law to discriminate based on race and religion, why should this be any different?
20:16 July 31, 2010 by eddie123
the employer was wrong for being forthright. you can't tell the lady that she wont be employed even before she has handed in her aplication letter even if you know she wont get the job on that count? more so, why discuss the specifics of an application or rationalize the merits or demerits of an application with the applicant? is that a provision in the law? if the employer had been wise and didn't hold these discussions, the lady wont have tapped the conversation in the first place. that said, pregnant women should be supported and encouraged to work as much as possible. at the same time, pregnant women shouldn't go out in search of jobs at the eleventh hour given that they will soon give birth and proceed on 12-18 months of maternity leave. this is borderline scamming of a company.
23:17 July 31, 2010 by NovaLand
I guess she can set her foot there again since her new (or now former i guess) would call her all sorts of things. But I hope it was worth the price. I think it's a shame that honesty doesn't pay, being truthfully about not being to be able to hire her for her soon-to-come-pregnancy. Now they might not be able to hire anyone instead. Good job!
07:33 August 1, 2010 by AussieAndy

I agree 100%
12:30 August 1, 2010 by Swedesmith
Sounds like someone had it in for her.
04:33 August 2, 2010 by waffen
Canada Girl is right on this matter.
07:22 August 2, 2010 by Sherian Elizabeth
Canada girl is so right..........I think it's a good thing now days to record conversations regarding jobs, money and position in a company. So many employers say one thing and do another.......I have been through that with working for lawyers who are so good at talking out of both sides of the mouth. Now days I get everything in writing, if it's not in writing then it's being recorded. I learnt from lawyers no less, it's called "Cover your ass".
09:17 August 3, 2010 by pjtaipale
Sherian Elizabeth, I think you now have it backwards. Here we have an employer that said one thing and did precisely the same. He/she was honest and open. And look where it got him/her.

The employer would not have been forced to pay damages if he/she had lied and said "there have been shortcomings in the way you handled your duties, and therefore we unfortunately cannot hire you". Then the woman who was recording the conversation would have had no basis for a damages claim.

Lesson to employers: you are encouraged to lie.
09:48 August 4, 2010 by Serendipitiz
This, unfortunately, sounds like another reason why this discrimination against women gets perpetuated. I personally work in an organization that has more than 90 women, and my wife is pregnant as well. The difference here is that my organization is big enough to plan for at least 4 or 5 women being away on maternity at any given time (And yes, there always are), and my wife's organization values her skills and experience and knows that it is worth the wait for her to come back. A small company that hires a pregnant woman needs to go through the entire recruitment process again in a few months, as well as only be able to offer a temporary position, which usually attracts the less qualified. To abuse her temporary placement as part of a "labor market" scheme (ie she was unemployed and there through Arbetsförmedlingen) is just wrong, especially after just a two week placement. All this does is drive the reasons underground - smaller companies will be far more wary about hiring women between 25-35, and lose out on a valuable resource pool. And those women lose out on job opportunities. I appreciate the need to have babies and maternity leave, but the respect needs to go both ways - for many, their small company is what stands between them and the unemployment office, a much worse of life for their families and the few employed there, and this places certain restraints.
Today's headlines
Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available