The Court of Appeal of Lithuania has issued its ruling on the appeal of a former employee at the Romanian Embassy in Lithuania, who claimed she lost her job as a result of gender discrimination. The September 4 ruling agreed with the applicant, L. Š., holding that the dismissed pregnant woman was subject to discrimination on the basis of gender and awarding her 50,000 litas in compensation for material loss.
Fired for no reason
L. Š. started working in the Romanian Embassy in May of 2008, presenting her employer with a certificate confirming her pregnancy in July. She was fired on the very next day, without any reason given by her employer.
"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," said HRMI Legal Director Jūratė Guzevičiūtė, commenting on the court's decision in this strategic case of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute.
Case sets a precedent
In this case, the claimant was represented by advocate Diana Gumbrevičiūtė-Kuzminskienė. "The award of 50,000 litas to compensate for material loss was adequate, effective, and will deter employers from discriminatory acts and help ensure the implementation of the principles of equal treatment and equal opportunity for men and women in the field of employment and professional activities," claimed Ms. Gumbrevičiūtė-Kuzminskienė.
L. Š. is one of the first women in Lithuania to dare to challenge a discriminatory dismissal in court. This judgment by the Court of Appeal of Lithuania has created a precedent that will help other pregnant employees in defending their rights.