Gender Stereotyping in Sex Discrimination Case

Woman holding her head looking at a laptop

Amy Verner has settled a discrimination case against her former employer Ballymena-based Grants Electrical Services (NI) Ltd.


Amy was employed by the company as a Design Engineer and was the only female engineer on her team.  She had worked on projects which involved testing and this sometimes required her to work out of the office.  After Amy got married she felt that she had stopped being allocated projects which required her to work out of the office and was only being given office-based projects.


These concerns were raised with the company but Amy felt they were not taken seriously.  She believed that she was being treated less favourably because some of her male colleagues presumed that just because she had got married that she would soon become pregnant.  In the end Amy felt she had no option but to leave her job and seek alternative employment.


Amy said: “I was shocked by comments made to me before and after my wedding which suggested that there was a sense of resentment that I would soon be pregnant.  I was neither pregnant nor planning to become pregnant.  It was implied that by having a baby I would somehow be dumping my work responsibilities on to colleagues.”


The case was supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) and was settled for £5,000 without admission of liability.  Anne McKernan, Director of Legal Services from ECNI said employers “must not make assumptions about their female employees and subsequently treat them less favourably than their male counterparts.”


Anne also said:  “Women are an essential part of building our economy and currently women are persistently under-represented across STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industries in Northern Ireland.  It is important that skilled, knowledgeable and experienced women are encouraged to build a career in our STEM industries.”


As part of the settlement the company has agreed to meet with ECNI to review its policies and procedures.