Female Engineer Settles Sex Discrimination Case For £5k

A female engineer has settled a sex discrimination case for £5,000 after alleging she was subjected to unlawful discrimination on the basis of her gender.

Amy Verner, a former Design Engineer at Grants Electrical Services, took the case as she believed she was treated less favourably because colleagues were under the impression that she would soon become pregnant.

Ms Verner had worked on projects from both client premises and her own office, but was assigned only office based work after getting married. Supported by the Equality Commission, she alleged these projects had been allocated to other engineers and that she was now tasked with office based and Computer Aided Design (CAD) projects only.

Ms Verner commented: "I enjoyed my job and the projects I worked on, but I was shocked by comments made to me before and after my wedding which suggested that there was a sense of resentment that I would soon be pregnant. I was neither pregnant nor planning to become pregnant. It was implied that by having a baby I would somehow be dumping my work responsibilities on to colleagues.
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"When my projects were given to other engineers and I was then given CAD work and some other office based jobs, I firmly believed that other people's assumptions that I wished to start a family were now affecting my career. I raised my concerns with the company as I felt the comments were unfair and unjustified but I don't think they were taken seriously. In the end I felt I had no option but to seek employment elsewhere."

The case has since been settled for £5,000 without admission of liability. As part of the settlement terms Grants Electrical Services (NI) Limited has affirmed its commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity in the workplace and has agreed to meet with the Commission to review its policies, practices and procedures.

Anne McKernan, Director of Legal of Services at the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland said: "Amy's experiences highlight the need for all employers to take their employees concerns seriously and to have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with issues raised. They must not make assumptions about their female employees and subsequently treat them less favourably than their male counterparts.

"Women are an essential part of building our economy and currently women are persistently underrepresented across the STEM industries in Northern Ireland. It is important that skilled, knowledgeable and experienced women are encouraged to build a career in our STEM industries."


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