Her employer argued it was simply a case of bad timing, but the tribunal concluded that the termination was a form of gender discrimination.
In the decision, Pauline Kooner-Rilcof was described as a model employee for Ontario-based BNA Smart Payment Systems, which provides debit and credit card terminals for retailers.
She was recognized in emails by her bosses for being the “top salesperson in western Canada” and was promoted to regional vice-president of sales in May 2010.
In mid-September that year, Kooner-Rilcof informed her employer that she was pregnant and would be going on maternity leave in December or January.
The next day, she received a phone call telling her that her position was terminated.
BNA says it made the decision earlier that month to close its B.C. operations, and Kooner-Rilcof’s announcement about her pregnancy 24 hours before losing her job was a case of bad timing.
Her boss, Matthew Moore, told the tribunal “the decision simply came down to economics” and said he was “sorry for the obvious upset that he had caused”.
However, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Kooner-Rilcof's pregnancy was an "operative" factor in BNA’s decision to terminate her.
The company has been ordered to pay $8,000 as compensation for “injury to dignity, feelings and self respect’ and $3,125 in outstanding salary and commission.
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