Typical situations of discrimination 

Typical suspected cases of discrimination involve hiring, extension of fixed-term contracts and returning to work from family leave. In these situations it may be a case of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or family leave.

  • In recruitment, applicants are asked about their family plans and how many children they have.
  • If the pregnancy is visible or brought up in a job interview, the applicant is often not hired despite being the most qualified applicant for the job.
  • During a probationary period, the employment contract is not extended even if the employee has done the job well.
  • When an employee is expected to go on a family leave, her career and pay progression stalls, despite having been promised a raise or additional job duties before the pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy or an impending family leave leads to the employee being selected for redundancy when the employer is laying off staff due to production-related or financial reasons.
  • An employee returns from family leave and finds that her duties have "disappeared" or she has been replaced by temporary staff, and she is consequently laid off due to production-related and financial reasons.

Discrimination due to pregnancy or family leave particularly targets women in insecure employment, such as agency workers and those with temporary, part-time or zero-hour contracts.

Discrimination due to pregnancy or family leave causes financial losses to discriminated employees, as a lower income will also affect the amount of maternity benefits and parental benefits they will receive, as well as their eligibility for paid maternity leave, which is part of most collective agreements.

Excamples of real life discrimination cases

Johanna, teacher:

Johanna's contract as a teacher in the same school had been extended several times, but each time the headmaster made sure that she was definitely not pregnant. When Johanna then became pregnant, her contract was not extended for the following school year. She applied for three positions being advertised at her school, but she was not selected for any of them, even though she had previously been selected from the same group of applicants.

An applicant who was pregnant was not selected on position, even though she had previously been selected from the same group of applicants.
She had been promised an extension to her contract as a substitute for a nurse but this promise was withdrawn when she told that she was pregnant.

Anna, nurse:

Anna had been working as a substitute nurse at a health station for two years. She had been promised an extension to her contract as a substitute for a nurse who had taken study leave, but this promise was withdrawn when Anna told the head nurse that she was pregnant. Anna later had a miscarriage, but she did not get the position as a substitute. The employer claimed that she should have applied for the position, even though previously substitutes had been hired without an application. According to Anna the employer knew – like they had known on previous occasions – that she wanted to continue on the job.

Elina, occupational health nurse:

When Elina went on maternity leave she had worked at an occupational health clinic for several years on fixed-term contracts. When she told her employer that she would go on childcare leave after her maternity leave ended, the employer told Elina that her substitute would continue in her job, as the substitute was more qualified than Elina. Previously Elina had always been given an extension without an application process. Because of that she had to be seen as being sufficiently qualified and her contract should have been extended.

She had to be seen as being sufficiently qualified and her contract should have been extended.
The cause for the dismissal was that the work process had been automated, but there were no production-related grounds.

Jenni, industrial worker:

Jenni had told her employer about her pregnancy, and was dismissed. The employer claimed that the cause for the dismissal was that the work process had been automated and that tasks had been outsourced, so they no longer needed as many workers as before. According to the District Court, however, there were no production-related grounds for her dismissal and the reason for the dismissal was her pregnancy, and Jenni should have been trained to perform new duties. Jenni received compensation for discrimination due to pregnancy by court order.

Niina, office secretary:

After being informed of Niina's pregnancy the CEO began putting pressure on her to resign, go on sick leave or agree to part-time work. She was also transferred to heavier duties against her wishes. Finally Niina was dismissed. The District Court ordered the CEO to pay day fines for discrimination at work.

Finally she was dismissed. The District Court ordered the CEO to pay day fines for discrimination at work.