• In the case of Bulicke v Deutsche Büro Service GmbH [2009] C-246/09, The interpretation of Council Directive 92/85/EEC of October 19, 1992, on the implementation of measures to stimulate improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant employees, workers who have just given birth, or workers who are nursing was the key legal concept at issue.
  • The Directive shall be construed to indicate that a dismissal in situations where a pregnant worker, a worker who has just given birth, or a worker who is nursing is treated less favourably than another worker because of her pregnancy, or the delivery is seen as being on the basis of sex.

Facts of the Case

  • Susanne Bulicke, a former employee of Deutsche Büro Service GmbH who was let go while on maternity leave, filed a lawsuit against her former employer, claiming that her termination was discriminatory.
  • For a preliminary judgement on the Directive’s interpretation, the German courts submitted the issue to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Issues in Bulicke v Deutsche Büro Service GmbH [2009] C-246/09

  • The primary question in the case was whether the Directive should be interpreted to mean that a dismissal in situations where a pregnant worker, a worker who has just given birth, or a worker who is nursing is treated less favourably than another worker because of her pregnancy or the birth is regarded as being on the basis of sex.

Held by Court (European Court of Justice)

  • The European Court of Justice determined that the Directive must be interpreted to mean that a dismissal in situations where a pregnant worker, a worker who has just given birth, or a worker who is nursing is treated less favourably than another worker because of her pregnancy or the birth is regarded as being on the basis of sex.

Judge’s Ruling

  • The ECJ determined that the Directive’s goal is to guarantee that employees who are pregnant, recently gave birth, or who are nursing are protected from discrimination at work. The Directive must be applied in a way that safeguards those employees from unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy, childbirth, or nursing.
  • The ECJ ruled that a dismissal in which a worker who is pregnant, has just given birth, or is nursing is handled less favourably than another worker because of her pregnancy or the delivery is considered to be on the basis of sex.
  • The employer must show that the dismissal was not motivated by the pregnancy, birth, or nursing but rather by other, more objective reasons. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the Directive’s protection against workplace discrimination must be effective and that the principle of equal treatment must be fully implemented.

Editor’s Notes

  • This decision is noteworthy because it defines the Directive’s application and offers pregnant and nursing employees protection against discrimination at work. The decision highlights how crucial it is to safeguard nursing mothers and expectant employees and make sure they are treated fairly at work. It acts as a reminder to employers to take these workers’ unique demands into account and abstain from any discriminatory actions.