Sagona told the court that she was initially given flowers and a card when she told her employers of her pregnancy, but was later told that she would have to take her long service leave after the summer holidays and before she had her baby and that if she insisted on returning to work after the holidays, it would have to be in a “behind the scenes capacity”.
She was told that she would not be able to do photo shoots or be seen by customers because it “was not a good look” for customers to see a pregnant woman working at the business and it would make her bosses look like “slave drivers”.
She was also told she would look “desperate” if she worked while visibly pregnant and if she did come to work after the summer holidays, her pay would be cut because she would not be generating income for the business because she would not be working as a photographer.
The court found that she had no choice but to resign from the company.
“The capacity for women to continue in employment during their pregnancy and to be able to continue with their career after having a child are matters which as a society we consider should be protected,” Judge Whelan said.
“I consider that there is a need for general deterrence with respect to both of these matters and, in particular, with respect to employees employed in small businesses.”
According to a survey of 2,000 women by the Australian Human Rights Commission, 49% have experienced discrimination at work during pregnancy, parental leave or on their return to work.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said many women “felt they had no choice but to change their entire careers” as a result.
49% of pregnant women experience workplace discrimination
Employer fined thousands for pregnancy discrimination
The Federal Court has awarded photographer Samantha Sagona $174,000 in compensation, after it found that she was forced to resign from her 12-year job with Piccoli Photography, due to the company’s response to her pregnancy.