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Woman fired after revealing pregnancy gets $11,000

Aug 14 2012

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has awarded a woman $11,000 for being fired from her senior sales position the day after she told her boss she was pregnant.

Pauline Prabhjot Kooner-Rilcof filed a human rights complaint alleging BNA Smart Payment Systems Ltd. discriminated against her when the struggling company dismissed her in September 2010.

She joined BNA in June 2009 to help the Ontario based company expand in British Columbia. BNA provides debit and credit card payment-processing services.

She was repeatedly praised for her work and within a year was promoted to vice-president of sales for Western Canada. In July 2010, she turned down a job offer from another company, saying things at BNA were going well and with a baby on the way it was not the time to "start a new career path."

On Sept. 15, 2010, she phoned her boss Matthew Moore, the president of the company, and told him she was pregnant and would be starting her maternity leave in December or January. The next day, Moore consulted with a company lawyer, then phoned her back. He told her she was being fired and that the company was shutting down its B.C. operations.

Moore had sunk more than $200,000 into the expansion with only nominal returns and said the declining business, not Kooner-Rilcof's pregnancy, was the reason she was fired. However, the company still has clients in Vancouver and is actively looking for new sales representatives in Vancouver, according to the ruling issued Aug. 2.

Moore testified that he had decided he was going to fire her about two weeks beforehand, but had wanted to do it in person.

He said that in September he planned to send another executive in his place to fire Kooner-Rilcof. However, he could not provide the tribunal with any corroborating evidence of this.

Moore claimed that given Kooner-Rilcof's joy about her pregnancy during the call, it was not the right time to tell her she was being dismissed.

The following day, Sept. 17, her corporate email was shut down, and she was given two weeks' pay in lieu of notice with her next paycheque on Sept. 24.

Kooner-Rilcof claims she suffered, and continues to suffer, depression from the firing.

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