A Sudbury woman is fighting to get her job back after being terminated while on maternity leave.
Amy Gravelle says she was on maternity leave from Canadian Blood Services in Sudbury when she was called into the office and told that there would be no job for her to return to. She was told her position as events co-ordinator had been combined with the territory manager position and was given to the woman hired to replace her while she was on maternity leave.
According to the Employment Standards Act, in most cases, an employee who takes parental or pregnancy leave is entitled to the same job they had before the leave or a comparable job if the previous job no longer exists.
However, Gravelle says she was never offered a comparable job and instead offered a severance package.
“They tell me I don’t have a job to come back to and I was shocked because I worked very hard for the company, I was qualified to do that,” said Gravelle.
Canadian Blood Services wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the case.
Gravelle filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labour (MOL) and after an investigation, an employment standards officer found Canadian Blood Services was wrong in terminating Gravelle’s employment.
“I find that the employer has failed to substantiate its stated reasons for terminating the claimant’s employment. On a balance of probabilities, I find that the claimant’s intention to take pregnancy leave impacted the employer’s decision to terminate her employment,” said the decision from the Employment Standards Officer.
However, Gravelle says she didn’t get her job back. Instead, the MOL ordered Canadian Blood Services to pay a severance and an extra $500 for emotional pain and suffering.
“I do not find that reinstatement is appropriate as the relationship between the parties appears to be “too poisoned” by litigation for reinstatement to be appropriate,” said the decision from the Employment Standards Officer.
“I was expecting to be reinstated into that position, because they were found guilty. They were supposed to offer me a comparable job,” Gravelle said, adding she doesn’t agree with the officer’s reasoning.
Gravelle says relationships with people in her former office have not been strained.
“The people that were responsible for doing this are not in Sudbury, they’re not in the office. I don’t work with those people …. I have relationships with the clients, I know that this has nothing to do with the blood donors or the staff at the clinic,” she said.
Gravelle has filed an appeal with the Ontario Labour Relations Board with the hope she’ll get her job back.
“Canadian Blood Services has announced that the Sudbury blood donor clinic is going to be closing in January, but they are going to be opening a new plasma clinic … and I had told them, I feel it would be appropriate for me to be reinstated at this new plasma clinic,” she said.
She says she’s also hoping to warn other people that this can happen.
“My hope is to let people know that because you’re on maternity leave, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your job is safe, even though it says that in the Employment Standards Act,” said Gravelle.
“I want people to know that it can actually happen.”