An Accra High Court has ordered the Ghana Fire Service to pay 100,000 cedis as compensation to two former women employees who were dismissed for getting pregnant within three years of their appointment.
The court presided over by Anthony K Yeboah has also ordered the Service to reinstate the two-Grace Fosu, Thelma Hammond- and pay them all arrears due them during their period of dismissal.
In a landmark judgment that will ensure gender equality in the country’s fire service, the judge averred Regulation 33 (6) of the Fire Service Conditions of Service is discriminatory.
The Regulation states: “A female employee shall not be dismissed on the ground that she is pregnant provided she has served the first three years.”
In otherwords, women employees of the National Fire Service must defer their pregnancies until after three years of being employed.
Two ex-employees of the National Fire Service, Grace Fosu, Thelma Hammond, were dismissed for violating Regulation 33 (6) of the Fire Service Conditions of Service.
They proceeded to the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice and later to the Human Rights Court, accusing the Fire Service of discriminating against them on the basis of gender.
They argued they have been discriminated upon on the basis of their gender which is in flagrant violation of the 1992 Constitution.
The constitution states in Article 17 (1) All persons shall be equal before the law.
(2) A person shall not be discriminated against on the grounds of gender, race colour, ethnicity, or creed or social or economic status.
They pleaded with the court to have the Service rescind its decision and reinstate them.
The service in defending the reason for Regulation 33 (6) stated newly employed service personnel, male or female, have to endure rigorous training regimes in the first three years of their appointment.
They argued further a pregnant woman may be unable to undergo such training regimes for which reason they had to be sacked.
The presiding judge held that it was the first time a case of gender discrimination was coming before the court of law.
There was, therefore, no “decisional law” to depend on in giving his ruling. Judge Anthony K Yeboah had to be guided by international conventions and similar cases outside Ghana in order to arrive at a decision.
He averred for any act of discrimination to be deemed to be justifiable by any institution, the decision has to be reasonable, objective and must lead to the attainment of an aim.
While it was clear that Regulation 33(6) was discriminatory, Justice Yeboah further held that the Service did not have any reasonable, objective basis to deny the women their right to get pregnant in the first three years of their appointment.
On the basis of that he ruled;
“That Regulation 33(6) of the Conditions of Service of the GNFS is discriminatory in effect, unjustifiable, illegitimate and illegal.
“That the 2nd and 3rd applicants be reinstated into the employment of GNFS without prejudice to any benefit that would have accrued to them during the period of their dismissal.
“That the GNFS pays to the 2nd and 3rd Applicants all arrears of their salaries and benefits that accrue to them during the period of dismissal.
“Finally the GNFS pays to each of the 2nd and 3rd applicants a compensation in the sum of 50,000 cedis for the trauma and inevitable inconvenience of the wrongful dismissal.”