Pregnancy sacking takes financial firm Carnbrea to FWC

28 June 2013
A Victorian wealth management firm is facing a pregnancy discrimination claim over its sacking of a female employee attempting to return to work just months after giving birth, despite the company having previously agreed to helping her return to work.

The case comes just days after the Federal Government announced an inquiry into workplace discrimination against women taking, or returning to work from, maternity leave.

A claim filed in the Fair Work Commission by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers shows wealth management company Carnbrea Co. Ltd. is alleged to have terminated new mum Sarah Fillmore's employment after asking her to write a proposal for a return on a part-time basis.

Josh Bornstein, Maurice Blackburn employment law principal, said the company has shown a distinct lack of integrity in the way it terminated Ms Fillmore, despite having previously assured her of a flexible return to work plan.

"As requested by Carnbrea, Ms Fillmore put her flexible work proposal in writing and asked to discuss it with the company. Instead, she received a letter from the company terminating her employment and demanding that she hand in the office key," Mr Bornstein said.

"At the time Ms Fillmore told Carnbrea she was pregnant it was agreed she would return to work part-time before gradually returning to work full-time.

"This is a brazen breach of a prominent and basic workplace law by a high-profile company that has no excuse for not being aware of and complying with its legal obligations under equal opportunity and anti-discrimination law."

The claim filed in the FWC alleges that Carnbrea took unlawful adverse action against Ms Fillmore because she accessed unpaid parental leave, because she had caring responsibilities and because she exercised her right to request flexible work arrangements.

Carnbrea's own website espouses core company values of integrity, open communication and transparency. Ms Fillmore now calls on Carnbrea to live up to these values.

"I was absolutely shocked at the company's attitude towards me returning to work after having my baby, and I've been made to feel that somehow I've done the wrong thing," Ms Fillmore said.

"I had even prepared for returning to work by arranging childcare and weening my baby boy Cooper off breast milk at four months of age, which as all parents know, is a significant commitment in itself."

Ms Fillmore - who has more than a decade's experience in the financial services industry - is seeking compensation for lost wages and the hurt, humiliation and distress she suffered.

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