Adjudicator rules firing of pregnant Manitoba worker 'discriminatory'

WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg cleaning company has been ordered by a human rights adjudicator to pay $5,000 in compensation to a female employee who was fired just days after learning she was pregnant.

Robert Dawson says in his ruling that the move by Take Time Cleaning and Lifestyle Services was discriminatory, and that it must pay Andrea Szabo for injury to her dignity and self-respect.

Dawson says Take Time owner Cindy Dayman knew that Szabo’s medical appointments were related to her pregnancy, but the worker’s resulting unavailability was part of Dayman’s decision to fire her in 2012.

The adjudicator says that while the company has an attendance policy, the human rights code requires employers to reasonably accommodate workers to the point of undue hardship.

Szabo filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, alleging that Take Time discriminated against her due to her pregnancy.

The commission investigated and requested an independent adjudicator be appointed to make a final decision.

Prior attempts at resolving the complaint through mediation were unsuccessful.

Diane Dwarka, commissioner of the MHRC, said in a statement that the ruling sends a clear message to employers that they must be aware of their obligations under the human rights code.

“They should avoid making assumptions about pregnancy-related needs in the workplace. Employers cannot use business reasons as justification for otherwise discriminatory decisions,” she said.