Landmark Decision from the Shah Alam High Court on discrimination over pregnancy
Recently, the Shah Alam High Court today awarded a woman RM300,000 in damages for breach of her constitutional right to gender equality after the government refused to employ her as a temporary teacher when she became pregnant.
In addition, the government was also ordered to pay the 32-year-old, Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin in form of compensations as follows:
- RM12,907.68 – loss of earnings
- RM2,296.10 – loss of EPF (Employees Provident Fund)
- RM912.71 – loss of EPF dividends
- RM25,000 – pain and suffering, and
- RM5,000 in costs
Representing Noorfadilla, lawyer Honey Tan commented that it is one small step for Noorfadilla but one giant leap for women’s rights in Malaysia. She continued that “there have never been damages paid for breach of constitutional rights before this. This decision has made great inroads into the development of Malaysian jurisprudence in the area of human rights law,”
The court had awarded Noorfadilla, a homemaker with four children, damages for breach of Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution that prohibits gender discrimination.
In 2010, Noorfadilla sued the government after the Hulu Langat district education officers revoked her appointment in 2009 as a temporary teacher on a month-to-month basis upon discovering her pregnancy.
In 2011, the Shah Alam High Court ruled in favour of Noorfadilla that the government had discriminated against Noorfadilla and, in a landmark decision, held that the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) had the force of law in Malaysia as the country had acceded to the human rights treaty in 1995.
The government appealed against the High Court decision but withdrew it at the last minute. The Court of Appeal then ordered RM5,000 in costs.