The operator of a popular restaurant is being taken to court by a former waitress who claims that she lost shifts because she was pregnant.
Facing the Federal Circuit Court accused of pregnancy discrimination is Abdel Wahid Tajeddine, and his company Jewel Bay 2015 Pty Ltd, which operates Coco’s restaurant in South Perth.
She ‘looks disgusting’
The former waitress, aged in her late 20s, told Tajeddine that she was pregnant in April 2017.
Soon after, in July 2017, when she was visibly pregnant, Tajeddine allegedly told a supervisor to send the waitress home because she “looks disgusting”.
Soon after, Tajeddine allegedly directed the supervisor to cancel the shift the waitress was rostered to work that evening, making references to her pregnancy and on her appearance and her ability to perform her duties.
The waitress wrote to management expressing concerns about her job, but she received no response.
Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said discrimination on the basis of a person’s pregnancy status is unlawful.
“The Fair Work Act is very clear – employers cannot discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, parental responsibilities, impairment or marital status,” he said.
“If this restaurant owner is found to have discriminated against his worker, he can expect the court will impose a hefty penalty, and order him to pay compensation to the worker for lost earnings and hurt and humiliation.
“Unfortunately many women still face discrimination in the workplace when they get pregnant, whether it be a reduction in shifts, or being forced to change roles, and sometimes even getting sacked.”
Tajeddine faces penalties of up to $12,600 for each contravention, while his company faces penalties of up to $63,000 for each contravention.
The matter is due in the Federal Circuit Court next month.