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Britain Probes Pregnancy Discrimination

May 1, 2003

LONDON (AP) _ Congratulations on the new baby. You’re fired.

The case of a new mother who received a dismissal notice from her employers along with a card of congratulations from her colleagues has prompted the government to investigate discrimination against pregnant women.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who is also minister for women, said she has asked the watchdog Equal Opportunities Commission to find out how widespread such cases are.

She said the decision by P.H. Adams Electrical Contractors Ltd. to enclose a sacking notice in a card sent to Carol Bonehill on the birth of her second child, was ``a disgrace and a woeful example of Victorian management practice.

``We have recently changed the law to simplify maternity and paternity leave for parents and to make it easier for firms to help employees balance work and family life,″ Hewitt said.

``It is depressing that something as natural as childbirth is still seen as an alien and unwelcome concept by some employers.

An industrial tribunal recently awarded Bonehill, 29, from Erdington, central England, almost $14,400 compensation for sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The director of P.H. Adams on Thursday apologized to Bonehill, but insisted that she had not been fired for being pregnant or for missing work due to her pregnancy.