Belfast Telegraph

Employers must act fairly, says Belfast mother who complained

By Amanda Ferguson

A Belfast woman awarded £4,500 after she alleged unlawful sex discrimination says employers must not be allowed to get away with treating pregnant staff and mothers unfairly.

Last year the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland supported Sinead Morgan, a 24-year-old from the west of the city, who had worked for the clothing retailer River Island for five years from 2007.

After maternity leave following the birth of a son, she wanted to return to work on a part-time basis but was advised this was not possible because the company did not employ part-time managers.

Sinead was told she could return on a part-time basis to a post two grades below her previous managerial position and subsequently felt she had no option but to resign.

The Commission assisted her in lodging a complaint with the Industrial Tribunal alleging unlawful sex discrimination and the case was settled before hearing.

River Island, without admission of liability, paid her £4,500 and undertook to review its policies and procedures.

Ms Morgan told the Belfast Telegraph women wanting to stay in the workplace after having children should be facilitated.

"Pregnant women and mothers should be treated a bit better," she said.

"This was my first child. I found the whole experience stressful.

"I had a baby to provide for and I was stressed out all the time.

"I was disappointed I had to give up my career.

"I had really wanted to progress up the ladder at River Island. I enjoyed working for them."

The young mum praised the Equality Commission for helping her.

"They were great help," she added.

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