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Silke-Karin Mahlburg v Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommen , Case N C207/98, 4 February 2000

Facts: A German nurse applied for a vacant post on a permanent contract which involved the same duties which she was fulfilling at that time under her fixed-term contract. She found out that she was pregnant a little later and was thus assigned to administrative duties for the remainder of the pregnancy. Her employer informed her that her application for the permanent post had been rejected because the job involved work which pregnant women were not allowed to do under the German law.

Holding: the ECJ ruled that the refusal from the applicant's employer to employ her for the permanent job violated the equal treatment Council Directive 76/207/EEC

Reasoning: the aim of the Directive was substantive, not formal equality. The additional costs caused by the fact that the women appointed could not be employed in the post for the duration of the pregnancy could not justify a refusal to employ her. Although pregnant workers must be afforded extra protection at work because of their condition, this must not be used as an excuse to discriminate against them.

 

 

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