According to Danish legislation there is no general rule preventing the dismissal of pregnant employees or employees on maternity leave. However, the Danish Right To Equal Treatment Act prevents an employer being influenced in any way by an employee’s pregnancy in reaching its decision to dismiss (“the Provision”).
In a February 2012 Danish Supreme Court ruling, the employer had no knowledge nor was it found it ought to have had knowledge of the employee’s pregnancy, when he decided to terminate her employment. The dismissal was solely based on her sickness absence. It was, however, later discovered that the absence was substantially due to pregnancy-related sickness.
The Danish Supreme Court found that, the intended purpose of the Provision should be interpreted as including absence due to a pregnancy-related sickness, even though the employer on the date of termination did not know or ought to have known about the pregnancy.
However, the Court also stated that in these particular situations the obligation to pay compensation according to the Provision must be conditional upon the employer failing to withdraw the termination upon discovery of the employee’s pregnancy.
In this case, the employer had not withdrawn the termination and the Court thus awarded the employee a compensation equal to six months’ salary.