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Sex discrimination: Pregnant woman not comparable to sick man

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    Webb v EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd [1994] IRLR 482 ECJ (1 other report)

    • Sick man defence barred

      1 September 1994

      In Webb v EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd (14 July 1994) EOR57A, the European Court of Justice rules that it is contrary to the Equal Treatment Directive to dismiss a woman employed for an unlimited term who, shortly after her recruitment is found to be pregnant, notwithstanding that she was recruited initially to replace another employee during the latter's maternity leave.

It is impermissible, under EC equality law, to compare a woman who will be unavailable for work due to pregnancy, to a man who would be similarly unavailable because of medical or other reasons, holds the European Court of Justice in Webb v EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd. Therefore, it is in breach of Community law to dismiss a woman on the grounds that she will be temporarily unavailable for work because of her pregnancy, even if she was recruited for the specific purpose of covering another employee's maternity absence, and even if a man similarly unavailable in the same circumstances would also have been dismissed.