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Case of the Week: IVF Treatment Rules Clarified

Personnel Today,  Jan 11, 2009
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Sahota v The Home Office and Pipkin


Immigration officer Parminder Sahota was experiencing difficulties becoming pregnant and had begun a course of IVF treatment which had been unsuccessful on two occasions. Sahota issued a complaint of sex discrimination in the employment tribunal claiming that she had been subjected to various detriments because she was undergoing IVF treatment.


The employment tribunal found that the acts Sahota complained of either did not amount to a detriment or harassment or, even if they arose out of it or of circumstances connected with it, were not done on the grounds that Sahota was undergoing IVF treatment.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the findings of the employment tribunal. It also went on to discuss the extent to which discrimination on the ground that an employee is receiving IVF treatment is to be regarded as discrimination on the grounds of sex or pregnancy.

The EAT said that it is long recognised that discrimination against a woman on the ground of her pregnancy is direct sex discrimination and there is no need to identify a male comparator. However, the case-law is also clear that when a worker is absent as a result of a gender-specific illness, even one attributable to pregnancy or confinement, less favourable treatment on account of that absence does not constitute sex discrimination if a male worker would have been treated in the same way. Read more.>Read more.


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