The EAT has upheld a decision of the ET in Lyons v DWP Jobcentre Plus that a woman, who was dismissed having been off sick for several months after the end of her maternity leave, had not been discriminated against because of pregnancy or sex. s18 of the Equality Act 2010 sets out that pregnancy discrimination only occurs where the woman is treated less favourably during the protected period of pregnancy and being on maternity leave. In this case the alleged less favourable treatment came after maternity leave had ended and she was no longer pregnant.
The ECJ had previously confirmed in another case, Brown v Rentokil Ltd, that a woman does not necessarily suffer from direct discrimination because of sex where she is dismissed because of a pregnancy-related absence where her maternity leave has ended. Sex Discrimination will only occur where she is treated less favourably by her employer than it would treat a sick man in similar circumstances. In this case, a man with the same level of sickness would also be dismissed.