‘Rejected because I’m pregnant’

A reader thinks she lost out on a job because of her pregnancy. Our Careers expert, Karel van der Molen sheds some light on the issue.

This reader was told that her “pregnancy would be a problem” in a new job she was applying for. She was subsequently rejected and now feels that the company didn’t behave fairly. 

Question:

I am 19 weeks pregnant and applied for a position that I really want and have the skills and experience for. I was honest right from my application and informed the recruiter that I am pregnant.

The recruiter come back saying they don't see it to be an issue and would discuss it with their client. Soon after the recruiter came back to me to inform me that the client is not interested because they are expecting high volumes of work and that my pregnancy will be a problem.

I do understand their concern but feel that they could at least have met with me and find out my capability and flexibility that I might have to offer. I feel that the company didn't behave fairly.

Do they have to reject me because of the reason they gave?

Professor Karel van der Molen's answer:

•    The Constitution, 1996 makes it very clear that a woman may not be discriminated against on the basis of her pregnancy.

This therefore means that the company cannot decide not to appoint you because of your pregnancy.

•    If the only reason is that the organisation does not wish to appoint a pregnant woman purely on the basis of her pregnancy, this would be seen to be an unfair labour practice in terms of the Constitution, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Employment Equity Act, 1998.

•    However, there may well be situations where an employer can exercise its prerogative and not employ a pregnant woman where the position or type of work could put the woman or her unborn child at risk.

This, however, doesn’t seem like such a situation, and therefore does seem like a matter of unfair labour practice.

(Read Karel’s full answer here) )
 
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