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Real Estate Agency Ordered to Pay 9K in Damages for Termination of Pregnant Receptionst

Ms. Dhillon was hired by Planet Group (Hallmark) Realty Inc. (the “Company”) as a receptionist in January, 2011. In addition to receptionist duties, the Company had plans to train Ms. Dhillon in conveyance for one year and eventually promote her to the position of Assistant Conveyancer. Her training commenced at the end of January, 2011.

In March, 2011, Ms. Dhillon advised her supervisor that she was pregnant. After the announcement of her pregnancy, her conveyance training stopped and less than two months later the Company terminated her employment without cause stating her position as receptionist was no longer required.

Ms. Dhillon filed a complaint against the Company with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal claiming discrimination in the area of employment on the basis of sex (pregnancy). The Company denied that her pregnancy was a factor in her termination stating rather that it was performance issues that led to the termination of her employment. Ms. Dhillon testified at the hearing that she received no verbal warnings or letters of reprimand regarding her performance. While the Tribunal did accept evidence that there seemed to be some frustration with Ms. Dhillon’s work performance, the Company failed to formally address performance concerns and was unable to produce any written documentation to support that it had progressively managed or disciplined Ms. Dhillon during the course of her employment.

The Tribunal in its decision accepted Ms. Dhillon’s testimony that once she disclosed her pregnancy to her supervisor, her conveyance training ceased. In addition, the Tribunal referenced email evidence to support that the decision to terminate Ms. Dhillon’s employment was made within three weeks after the announcement of her pregnancy.

The Tribunal found that the Company did discriminate against Ms. Dhillon on the basis of sex (pregnancy) contrary to s. 13 of the Human Rights Code and ordered the Company to pay Ms. Dhillon $9,000.00 in damages consisting of $3000.00 for lost wages and $6,000.00 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.

Further Reading: Dhillon v. Planet Group, 2013 BCHRT 83 (CanLII) Date of Decision: March 28, 2013

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