Thursday, June 27, 2013

Landmark ruling that pregnant women not be denied jobs remains unchallenged

Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, 31, and her son Mohd Ismail, 4, outside the courtroom. Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, 31, and her son Mohd Ismail, 4, outside the courtroom.
PUTRAJAYA: A landmark High Court ruling that denying a woman employment due to pregnancy was unconstitutional, was upheld after the Government withdrew its appeal before the Court of Appeal on Thursday.
A three-person panel, lead by Justice Datuk Clement Allan Skinnerstruck out the appeal and ordered RM5,000 in costs to be paid by the Government.
Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan requested the appeal be withdrawn without stating a reason.
In July 13, 2011, the Shah Alam ruled in favour of Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, who took the Government to court to seek a declaration that pregnancy is not a reason for her to be denied employment as an untrained relief teacher.
The court also ordered an assessment of damages for breach of gender discrimination, the first time damages had awarded for an infringement of Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution.
Noorfadilla's counsel Edmond Bon told reporters that his client would proceed with a settlement of damages now the appeal was withdrawn.
Noorfadilla, 31, said she was relieved that the Government had chosen not to peruse the matter further.
The mother of three children - Nur Fatihah Mohd Izwan, 6, Mohd Ismail, 4, and Mohd Idhafi, 2 - was expecting her fourth child later this year.
In the landmark 2011 ruling, judge Zaleha Yusof had adopted the United Nations' Convention on the Elimination Of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and found that Noorfadilla had the right to be appointed as a relief teacher and that the revocation of her placement was unconstitutional.
The judge also cited Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which states that there shall be no discrimination on anyone based on gender.
Noorfadilla had filed the suit on May 7 2010, seeking a declaration that the termination of her contract because she was three months' pregnant was illegal.
She named Hulu Langat district education officers Chayed Basirun and Ismail Musa, Selangor education department director Dr Zahri Aziz, the education ministry director-general, the education minister and the government as respondents.
Noorfadilla claims that she was offered a position as an untrained relief teacher on a month-to-month basis starting in mid-January 2009.
However, the offer was withdrawn when she informed the Hulu Langat district education office that she was pregnant.
This is the first time a civil servant had taken legal action against the government over gender discrimination at workplace.
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