21 JANUARY 2020 I A South Perth restaurant and its director have been fined tens of thousands of dollars for cutting down rostered shifts of a pregnant waitress because she was “holding another human inside of her” due to which, the restaurant manager reportedly said, she could not “move as fast as other staff”.
In penalising the Jewel Bay 2015 Pty Ltd that runs the Coco’s Restaurant, Judge Douglas Humphreys wanted “to send a clear message of general deterrence that employers who use casual employees in the manner that was used, particularly in the hospitality industry, cannot discriminate against women based on pregnancy and the cost of doing so, will well outweigh any perceived financial benefit from doing so”.
The recent action by Fair Work Ombudsman against the offending restaurant owner sets an encouraging example for expecting mothers who are unfairly treated by their employers because of their pregnancy – specially in the hospitality industry.
“The Federal Circuit Court has penalised Jewel Bay 2015 Pty Ltd $31,500 and company director Abdel Wahid Tajeddine has been penalised $6,300 for the workplace law breaches”, Fair Work Ombudsman said earlier in the month.
The Court also ordered the company and Mr Tajeddine to pay $7,000 in compensation to the waitress.
“In proceedings before the Court, it was an agreed fact that the waitress started work at Coco’s Restaurant on a casual basis in February 2016 and that she informed Mr Tajeddine, who was involved in the day-to-day management of the restaurant, that she was pregnant in April 2017,” the Fair Work Ombudsman’s press release reads.
The restaurant management admitted that some of the waitress’s shifts were reduced and cancelled between July and September 2017 for reasons that included her pregnancy.
According to the statement, Judge Humphreys noted that the waitress could be sent home early if there was no work for her to perform.
Mr Tajeddine, in July 2017, apparently asked a supervisor of the restaurant to send the “visibly pregnant” waitress home first because “she looks disgusting”.
The discriminatory treatment of the waitress came to light after she lodged a request for assistance with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“Under the Fair Work Act, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the grounds of pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, religion, political opinion, nationality or social origin,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.
“Discrimination has no place in any Australian workplace and will not be tolerated by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Employers must ensure that they treat all employees fairly and lawfully. Any employee with concerns about workplace discrimination should contact us,” Ms Parker added.
Judge Humphreys said “the adverse action flowed from explicit and very derogatory comments made by Mr Tajeddine”, and that the comments about the employee’s appearance “convey an entirely unacceptable view of pregnant women in modern Australia”.