“Less favorable treatment of an employee due to pregnancy is considered to be direct discrimination on the basis of gender. And even though gender discrimination is forbidden in Lithuania, quite often we receive information that employers are doing just that. For example, career-minded men or single women are always prioritized; at the interview, a woman is often asked to disclose her marital status and her future family plans, while women that are pregnant or on maternity leave are fired without giving any justified reason for doing so.”
– Jūratė Guzevičiūtė, HRMI Legal Director
Proceedings initiated: 2011
Proceedings closed: 2014
Case in brief: the woman was fired after telling her employer that she was pregnant
Outcome of the case: the woman’s dismissal amounted to discrimination on the ground of gender
Facts of the case:
Mrs. L.S is a person with a schizoaffective disorder. In March 2008, Mrs L.S. started working as an interpreter in the Embassy of Romania, and in May 2008, she signed a work contract and officially started her probationary period. In June 2008, the woman had a serious deterioration of health and was hospitalized. Later the same month Mrs L.S. informed her employer about her pregnancy and received an extremely negative reaction – she was accused of deception and fraud. After having delivered a certificate about her pregnancy to the employer, Mrs L.S. was dismissed the next day without any reason given by her employer.
Represented by the attoney-at-law Diana Gumbreviciute-Kuzminskiene and the Human Rights Monitoring Instititute, L.S. appealed to the court requesting to find her dismissal discriminatory on the grounds of disability (shizoaffective disorder) and gender (pregnancy).
In March 2012, Vilnius Regional Court found that L.S. was discriminated against on the ground of gender and awarded her 3186 EUR in damages. The case went up to the Lithuanian Supreme Court which upheld the first instance court’s judgment and ordered to reconsider the amount awarded in damages. The court noted that according to the EU Employment Equality Directive the sactions for the violation of a right to equality should be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive”. Yet the Supreme Court failed to acknowledge that the applicant suffered from discrimination not only on the ground of gender, but also on the ground of disability.
On 4 September 2014, the Lithuanian Court of Appeal re-examined increased the applicant’s damages award to 14 4481 EUR in pecuniary and 2896 EUR in non-pecuniary damages.