ERA throws out dismissal over pregnancy

ERA throws out dismissal over pregnancy

Janita Wright

A spray tan specialist was fired by her aunt after she got pregnant, with the aunt telling her clients would find it “disgusting and repulsive” to have services performed by a pregnant woman.

The Employment Relations Authority has since ruled that Janita Wright was wrong to dismiss her niece Veronica Kloeten from her job at CTS Cosmetologists in Mt Wellington.

Kloeten was awarded her lost wages, maternity leave and $3000 in compensation after Wright dismissed her for supposed “serious misconduct” in June 2011.

The ERA said Kloeten announced she was pregnant at a family dinner in June 2011, at which time Wright acted “indifferently”.

When they were back at work though, Wright became “upset and agitated” when Kloeten said she would be taking maternity leave.

She said the business would not be able to sustain the costs of the leave and clients “would not like to have the services provided by a pregnant woman, as they would find this to be disgusting and repulsive”.

Wright said they would have to increase the price of spray tans and eyelash extensions to pay for the maternity leave.

She later turned up the drama by changing her Facebook status to: “A catastrophic event … is watching everything you’ve worked for, your entire net worth, the thing that defines you as who you are & the hopes & dreams you had … all gone.”

Another confrontation ensued the next day.

Kloeten said Wright became so enraged that she believed she would be physically assaulted.

She had to push past her to get out the door and had to push open a gate with her foot as she had her hands full.

Wright then summarily dismissed her niece for serious misconduct alleging physical assault and verbal abuse on the part of Kloeten toward Wright.

However, a mechanic who worked nearby testified he had seen Wright holding Kloeten by the arm and pushing the crying girl out the door and saying “get out”.

ERA member Eleanor Robinson found that Kloeten had been unjustifiably dismissed and she had been unjustifiably disadvantaged in her employment due to her pregnancy.

Wright had been “abusive” towards her and conduct constituted “bullying and harassment”.

Kloeten was awarded the wages she lost from June to when her maternity leave would have begun in December, her 14 weeks maternity leave and $3000 in compensation for hurt and humiliation.


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