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Webb v EMO

[1995] I.R.L.R. 645

Case summary last updated at 17/02/2020 15:40 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Webb v EMO

A woman was sacked once she got pregnant (she was initially brought in because another employee got pregnant). Question referred to ECJ was whether this constituted sex discrimination and it said yes. HL therefore held that national provisions (s.1(1)(a) SDA 1975) would be interpreted consistently with this ruling and where a woman had been engaged for an indefinite period, the fact that pregnancy was the reason for her temporary unavailability at a time when to her knowledge her services would be particularly required was a circumstance relevant to her case that could not be present in the case of the hypothetical man. NB when this case went to the ECJ that court said that pregnancy and the possibility of becoming pregnant are exclusively female characteristics. It is therefore inappropriate to compare a pregnant woman to a man on sick leave. NB this is exactly what EAT and CA had done
Lord Keith: “It does not necessarily follow that pregnancy would be a relevant circumstance in the situation where the woman is denied employment for a fixed period in the future during the whole of which her pregnancy would make her unavailable for work, nor in the situation where after engagement for such a period the discovery of her pregnancy leads to cancellation of the engagement.” NB This obiter comment has been contradicted by the rulings of the ECJ that such a situation IS sex discrimination (C-438/99 Jimenez Melgar v Ayuntamiento de los barrios [2001] ECR I-06915 

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