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Case law: Defective risk assessment for mother nursing at work is prima facie evidence of discrimination

Employers should take particular care when carrying out health and safety risk assessments for nursing or pregnant employees, as a defective assessment is prima facie evidence of discrimination, a recent ruling makes clear.

December 2017

This update was published in Legal Alert - December 2017

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

Please note: A newer article on this case was published in the September 2018 edition of Legal Alert following subsequent developments in the legal process.

An employer's risk assessment concluded that the work of an employee, a nursing mother, in an accident and emergency department was risk-free. No explanation was given. As a result of the assessment, her request for a different working pattern was rejected.

She claimed sex discrimination on grounds that the risk assessment did not comply with EU law in relation to equal treatment of employees, and the health and safety of pregnant and breastfeeding workers.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that a defective risk assessment (or failure to carry one out at all) in relation to a breastfeeding mother was evidence of discrimination unless the employer could show otherwise.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Employers should take particular care when carrying out health and safety risk assessments for breastfeeding or pregnant mothers, as a defective assessment is prima facie evidence of discrimination, a recent ruling makes clear

Case ref: Otero Ramos v Servicio Galego de Saude Case C 531/15

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.