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Melgar v. Ayuntamiento de Los Barrios , Case C-438/99, E.C.R. I-6915 (2001)

Facts: the applicant was employed as a home help under a number of fixed term contracts with the Spanish local authority. Her employer became aware that J was pregnant and her latest fixed term contract was not renewed or extended. Instead she was offered a new fixed term contract but she refused to sign and instead brought a complaint of sex discrimination. She sought to be reinstated in her old contract.

Complaint: she claimed a violation of Article 10 of the Pregnant Women Directive which provided that it was discriminatory to dismiss a pregnant worker/worker on maternity leave except "in exceptional cases not connected with their condition" and which were permitted by national legislation/practice or consented to by a competent authority.

Holding: the ECJ did not find a violation of Article 10 PWD

Reasoning: if a woman on a fixed term contract was dismissed because of her pregnancy this was contrary to the PWD and would also constitute direct sex discrimination in breach of the Equal Treatment Directive (ETD). However, the non-renewal of a fixed term contract at the end of the fixed term was not a breach of the PWD because such a non-renewal did not count as a dismissal. If the reason it was not renewed was because the employee was pregnant, however, it may constitute discrimination contrary to the ETD. Whether it did was for the national court to decide.


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