A recent Federal Circuit Court decision, Sagona v R & C Piccoli Investments Pty Ltd & Ors  FCCA 875 (30 April 2014) (“Sagona”), serves as an important reminder of employers’ obligations in relation to pregnant employees in the workplace.
In Sagona, the Court held that the respondents, a photography business and its two directors/managers/shareholders, had taken adverse action against the applicant, their former employee, on the grounds that she was pregnant and on the grounds that she had exercised her ‘workplace right’ to refuse to work unreasonable additional hours. The applicant was awarded a sum of $235,097, mostly for economic loss. This amounts to one of the highest monetary awards made in an Australian discrimination case.
In conjunction with the recent decision of the Full Federal Court in Richardson v Oracle  FCAFC 82 (15 July 2014), in which the applicant was awarded a noteworthy figure of $100,000 for her non-economic loss, this case is further evidence of the courts’ increased willingness to make significant awards in discrimination cases.