Hossou Djossou Z. Prisque v. Plan International Benin

The applicant alleged that her employer terminated her employment while she was on maternity leave on the basis that she could no longer carry out the duties attached to her position.

Decision | 20 July 2009
Cotonou Court of First Instance First Class, Case No. 54-02, Judgement No 009/09


The applicant was employed as a regional coordinator. Her duties involved providing assistance to rural populations and she was consequently required to use a motorbike to travel. The applicant became pregnant in January 2000 and was granted a position which did not require her to travel until August 2000. In January 2001, she became pregnant again and benefited from maternity leave until April 2001. Suffering from complications due to her pregnancy, the applicant soon informed her employer that new medical reports indicated that she was not to travel on a motorbike. In May 2001, her employer sent her a letter informing her that her employment was terminated. The employer claimed that the applicant could no longer perform her duties and that he could not redeploy her to another position in the company pending her recovery.

Decision and Reasoning

Citing Article 8 of ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183), the Court held that “it is unlawful for an employer to terminate the employment of an employee during her pregnancy or absence on leave or during a period following her return to work, except on grounds unrelated to the pregnancy or birth of the child and its consequences or nursing”. In the circumstances, the Court found that the employer’s claim that the applicant could no longer carry out the duties of her employment was irrelevant. The termination of the applicant’s employment during the period following her return to work after maternity leave was unlawful.

The Court ordered that the applicant be awarded damages, including compensation for unfair dismissal.