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She was fired over the phone while in labor. And she’s still fighting to get her job back – CNN

CNN is committed to covering gender inequality wherever it occurs in the world. This story is part of As Equals , an ongoing series. Accra, Ghana — Grace Fosu was about to give birth at a maternity ward in Ghana’s capital Accra when she says she received a phone call from her employer, the Ghana…

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She was fired over the phone while in labor. And she’s still fighting to get her job back – CNN

imageCNN is committed to covering gender inequality wherever it occurs in the world. This story is part of As Equals , an ongoing series.
Accra, Ghana — Grace Fosu was about to give birth at a maternity ward in Ghana’s capital Accra when she says she received a phone call from her employer, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), telling her that she was being let go from her job. “I am in labor and you are calling me to tell me this, do you want me to die?” Fosu, 33, recalled telling the metro fire officer.

After hanging up, Fosu delivered a healthy baby girl, Salamat. But instead of feeling joy, she was consumed with grief. “For the dismissal, I went through hell ..

. I was very, very sad because I wasn’t expecting this,” Fosu told CNN about the September 2014 phone call. Fosu and her husband, Seidu Abubakari, had married the previous year, after meeting at an athletics tournament for Ghana’s security officials; Fosu ran the sprints for the fire service and Abubakari was a long distance runner for Ghana’s customs agency. Salamat was their first child, and they were looking forward to starting a family together. Read More Weeks after their daughter was born, the couple were summoned by the fire service and a formal dismissal letter, in which Fosu’s pregnancy was described as an “offence,” was handed to her husband. “When I opened the letter, I was confused. Then my body started shaking so I tried to control myself and my wife too,” Abubakari, 38, said, adding that fire service officials largely ignored Fosu’s presence in the room. Grace and her husband Seidu Abubakari in their uniforms.

The letter stated that Fosu was in violation of “Regulation 33 clause (6) of the Ghana National Fire Service Conditions of Service,” which prohibited female firefighters from becoming pregnant in their first three years of employment. Fosu had never before heard of the decades-old rule, which was established when the fire service was formed in 1963.

The spokesman for Ghana’s National Fire Service, Ellis Okoe, told CNN that the regulation was created because “fire service work involves a lot of strenuous effort” and that “if you are pregnant it could cause a lot of problems.” It’s unclear how many women have been affected by the regulation, but Fosu’s experience suggests a selective enforcement of the rule.

She says 11 other women in her class of firefighters were also pregnant within the same three-year period, but she was the only one to be kicked out of the service. Okoe said that the fire service “doesn’t have statistics” on all of those dismissed under the clause, and could not explain why Fosu’s peers who became pregnant were allowed to continue working. Fosu believes she was targeted over an incident in which she says she was sexually harassed by a senior male officer. She says the officer called her one evening demanding sex and gave her unsolicited advice on ways she could abort her baby. Abubakari, who witnessed the conversation, confronted the officer. But the couple never reported the incident.

Spokesman Okoe told CNN that the fire service has rules against sexual harassment and abuse, including an internal tribunal to investigate claims, which would have been utilized if Fosu had lodged a complaint.

Fosu says she never filed an official report against the officer — who is still in the service — because the harassment stopped after her husband confronted him. Grace dressed in her full fire service gear. After being dismissed and with nothing left to lose, she says she decided to take action against the fire service. She reported her dismissal to Ghana’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), an independent constitutional body with powers to investigate human rights abuses in the country. “Quite a number of similar cases had come from the uniformed services of Ghana,” CHRAJ commissioner Joseph Whittal told CNN, explaining that similar rules about pregnancy exist in Ghana’s armed forces, police and immigration service.

A Ghana Armed Forces spokesman told CNN that the military has a policy governing when women recruits get pregnant until six months past the end of the training period; it previously had a three-year ban like the fire service. A Ghana Police Service spokeswoman told CNN that women who got pregnant during their 18-month probation period were given maternity leave and allowed to return to work. CNN has reached out to the immigration service for comment on their policies. “Because the grounds for dismissal was based on a regulation, the only option was to seek a declaration from the courts invalidating it,” Whittal said. For years, CHRAJ had been waiting for a complainant willing to take such a case to court.

Women who had previously reported their dismissals on similar grounds to CHRAJ withdrew because they didn’t want to go through the court process, which can often be cumbersome and drawn out. But Fosu says she was not deterred. And as the lawyers at CHRAJ prepared to sue the fire service, another woman, Thelma Hammond, came forward with a similar story. Thelma (right), with her mother, at her graduation from fire service training school. Hammond, 36, was dismissed from the fire service in June 2013, more than a year before Fosu.

She too had a baby before her first three years of service were up. Hammond told CNN that, after her dismissal, her colleagues asked if she had refused advances from senior officers. Hammond said she hadn’t experienced any sexual harassment at the fire service and was shocked to lose her job. She says her first reaction was: “How can I take care of my baby?” In 2017, Fosu and Hammond filed a lawsuit against Ghana’s Fire Service, triggering what would become the country’s first successful gender discrimination case. In the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court, lawyers for the fire service argued that vigorous training during the first three years of employment may “adversely affect the foetus and the would be mothers.

” But their reasoning didn’t stand up. In April 2018, after less than a year of court proceedings, Justice Anthony Yeboah declared the regulation “discriminatory in effect, unjustifiable, illegitimate and illegal.” The judge held that by giving other women a reprieve, the fire service had demonstrated that the training could be deferred until after pregnancy and that women were “entitled to the right to choose when to become pregnant.

” In his ruling, Yeboah said the dismissal of Fosu and Hammond was “[an] unwarranted, institutional onslaught on their fundamental human rights – right to work and freedom from discrimination.” He ordered their reinstatement as firefighters, the payment of all the salaries and bonuses lost due to their dismissals and compensation of 50,000 Ghanaian cedi, about $9,000 dollars, to each woman “for the trauma and inevitable inconvenience of the wrongful dismissal.

” The victory was a big win not just for the women, or the lawyers working the case pro bono, but for gender equality in Ghana. Thelma was fired after giving birth to her daughter, Martha Oppong-Sagoe.

Spokesman for the fire service Ellis Okoe told CNN that the service has since scrapped the policy “to reflect the changes of the time,” reducing the prohibition period from three years to one — the first six months of training and six months probation. But, nearly a year after the historic judgment, the fire service is still resisting the verdict. Despite losing an appeal in January, the GNFS has still not allowed Fosu and Hammond to return to work and is yet to compensate them. CHRAJ sent the service a letter demanding that they reinstate the women by February 28 or face contempt of court, but the date passed without any action.

In theory, Ghanaian women have the constitutional right to equality and freedom from discrimination, but the Fosu and Hammond’s case exposed the reality that sexism is still rife, Sheila Minkah-Premo, a lawyer and women’s rights advocate, says. “[Ghana] has made some strides with regard to women’s rights in some areas but has not done very well in other areas … women’s role in public life is abysmal with attempts to get an affirmative action law in place not gone far,” she said. Only 37 of the 275 members of parliament are women.

Still, the country does better than others in guaranteeing paid leave for mothers of infants. Ghanaian women are entitled to at least 12 weeks of paid maternity leave under the country’s Labour Act — the US, by comparison, guarantees nothing. But, Minkah-Premo says, Ghanaian employers find ways around the rules. “The challenge is with some discriminatory practices in some institutions when it comes to engaging women who are pregnant or who become pregnant within the probationary period or a defined period within employment .

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. Some banks also have similar policies and these are discriminatory practices that must be stopped.” Hammond says that the sudden shift from a two-income household took a toll on her marriage, sparking frequent fights. Thelma (right) with her husband Terrance Oppong-Sagoe. “All the pressure was on my husband because the support I was giving him was no longer coming… [and] all the pressure of paying water bills, electricity bills, school fees, all [of these were] on him,” Hammond told CNN. Before she was let go, she had been saving to study human resources at university, but those dreams have been put on hold.

Fosu says that when she lost her job she felt she lost her identity as a strong, independent, working woman and she contemplated suicide. The internal struggle and financial strain that accompanied her dismissal has had knock-on effects on Fosu’s family too. In a desperate moment, she sold her wedding ring for a sixth of its value to buy food. The decision started a huge fight with her husband, who says he hopes to replace it when their finances are in better shape. In the meantime, the couple had to sell a plot of land where they planned to build a house. Today, they live in a small one bedroom home in a slum west of Accra. Still, the couple has hope.

Abubakari says he wants to study law one day so he can help other women, who went through what his wife has. But for now, all they can do is wait. “I’m praying that this job comes back to my hands.

I have a lot to give in my future,” Fosu said. Family photos courtesy of Grace Fosu and Thelma Hammond..

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Labor

Termination or resignation: Your labour rights when leaving a job in the UAE

Image Credit: Pexels Despite having clear guidelines on employee rights in the UAE, it is usual for residents to be forced to accept less than what they’re owed in case of resignation or termination. From conditions of notice periods to arbitrary dismissals, there are laws protecting both employee and employer interests. End of contract Resignation…

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Termination or resignation: Your labour rights when leaving a job in the UAE

imageImage Credit: Pexels Despite having clear guidelines on employee rights in the UAE, it is usual for residents to be forced to accept less than what they’re owed in case of resignation or termination.
From conditions of notice periods to arbitrary dismissals, there are laws protecting both employee and employer interests.
End of contract Resignation When you resign, your employer’s acceptance or rejection of your resignation is not essential legally. Even if the resignation was submitted by email, it is considered accepted from the date of submission. Therefore, your contractual notice period (up to a maximum of three months) starts from this date.

Termination Your dues and receivables differ based on whether you are terminated on account of redundancy (cost-cutting) or if you’re terminated in what is considered arbitrary dismissal (wrongful termination).
Also read Revealed: Over 8,000 jobs open in Dubai in one month; industries hiring include real estate, construction, hospitality Career: 7 tips on how women can succeed in a tech job In arbitrary dismissal, employers are liable to compensate the employee for wrongful termination along with gratuity and other dues. In redundancy, there is no such compensation other than gratuity pay and/or notice period compensation.

Your rights and responsibilities Notice period You have to serve notice period when resigning, and this will usually between one month and three months based on your contract. It cannot be more than three months as per law, and your employer cannot force you to work longer than that.
Also read Career: 7 things to know about your notice period in the UAE Your notice period is counted from the day of resignation or termination. In case of termination, the employer might ask you to work during the notice period or pay you the salary for the period before letting you go.

Air fare According to Article 131, your employer is not obligated to pay your air fare to your home country unless it is specified in the labour contract. If it is mentioned, the firm is obligated to all fares as specified by contract.
Also read UAE’s Emirates, flydubai, Air Arabia roll out discounted tickets for flights from Dubai, Sharjah In this case (contractual obligation), however, if the employee enters into the service of another sponsor or employer after, then the latter becomes responsible for air fare from the point of recruitment.

If the termination is by fault of the employee, the employer is not legally liable to pay for air fare if the employee has the means to pay – even if it is mentioned in his or her labour contract.
This law is specific to the cost of a travelling ticket for the employee. Other costs such as shipping or family repatriation are also legally payable if agreed upon in the labour contract or as per contractual company policies.
Visa costs You, as an employee, are never required to reimburse your employer for visa costs at any time. Visa costs and sponsorship costs are the sole responsibility of the employer and regardless of how or why your contract is terminated, you are not legally liable to pay for this.

Companies have been known to ask for installment-based deductions for visa costs from employees – this is illegal and punishable by law.
Experience certificate According to Article 125 of the UAE Labour Law, an employee upon end of contract should be given an end-of-service certificate detailing start date, end date and nature of work performed during the period of employment. It may also state your latest pay or wage details if requested.
An employee can request this certificate upon the end of his or her contract, and the employer would be liable to furnish this, along with any and all certificates belonging to the employee.

Gratuity Pay Payment of gratuity pay depends on how long you have been employed for as well as your contract type.
Guide How to calculate UAE gratuity pay Visa cancellation and passports Charges of visa cancellation and the process are the employer’s responsibility.
Your passport should be handed over to you immediately after the completion of cancellation.
Many employers still force employees to give up their passports for ‘safe-keeping’ or as ‘guarantee’ but this is illegal according to the UAE Labour Law.

Only a competent court or other federal authority is allowed to keep your passport.
Some companies agree to give up passports only close to the time of departure from the country – this is also illegal. At no time is your employer allowed to keep your passport, unless visa renewal or cancellation is in progress.
More From Employment Career:7 tips on how women can succeed in a tech job Suspension with lower pay for more than 10 days illegal What you should know when you start working At what age can you start working in the UAE? Trending UAE gratuity pay calculator Fired or resigning? Here are your labour rights 4 best ways to invest your Dh2,000 in UAE 36 tips to help you leave Dubai rich!.

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Labor

19,000 truck drivers just scored up to $100 million from one of America’s biggest trucking companies – and it’s the latest federal court win by truckers for better labor practices

19,000 truck drivers just scored up to $100 million from one of America’s biggest trucking companies – and it’s the latest federal court win by truckers for better labor practices Rachel Premack Mar 14, 2019, 09.02 PM Smart-Trucking.com/YouTube Truck drivers who worked for Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the US, are…

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19,000 truck drivers just scored up to $100 million from one of America’s biggest trucking companies – and it’s the latest federal court win by truckers for better labor practices

image19,000 truck drivers just scored up to $100 million from one of America’s biggest trucking companies – and it’s the latest federal court win by truckers for better labor practices Rachel Premack Mar 14, 2019, 09.02 PM Smart-Trucking.com/YouTube Truck drivers who worked for Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the US, are eligible for a payout of up to $100 million. According to the class action suit, they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of company drivers. It’s the latest win for truck drivers in the nation’s courts .

Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the US, has agreed to pay up to $100 million to 19,000 former and current truck drivers in a class action suit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. The truck drivers filed against Swift in Dec. 2009.

They claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees, and were thus locked out of certain benefits under federal labor law.
One of those benefits includes being paid minimum wage for every hour that truck drivers work.

Traditionally, truckers are just paid for every mile that they drive. The case returns to a question that’s been plaguing America’s courts in recent years – whether truck drivers deserve minimum wage for nondriving duties.
Swift did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Dan Getman, a co-lead attorney representing the 19,000 truck drivers involved in the federal case, wrote in a legal statement filed on March 11 that this case challenges Swift’s “owner operator” system.

That allows Swift, and most other trucking companies, to employ truck drivers as independent workers even as they acted as full-time employees.
“(T) heir actions ultimately generated an exceptional $100 million-plus-dollar fund for the class of thousands of drivers and may potentially result in changes to the industry that could benefit all misclassified drivers,” Getman wrote.

Read more: Truck drivers wait an average of 2.5 hours at warehouses without getting paid – here are the 20 cities where truckers wait the longest The decision to pay out speaks to other federal court cases appearing around the country in favor of ensuring truck drivers are paid for every hour they spend on the road.
The Supreme Court ruled in Jan. that contract truck drivers, or owner-operators, at a Missouri trucking company should be allowed to settle disputes in court, rather than arbitration. That suit started when the plaintiff in the case, owner-operator Dominic Oliveira, sued his employer for not paying him minimum wage.

And a federal court in Arkansas decided in a class-action suit in Oct. 2018 that drivers should be paid for every hour truckers spend in their trucks while not sleeping – 16 hours a day of at least minimum-wage pay.
In 2017, a Nebraska court decided that trucking giant Werner Enterprises must pay $780,000 to 52,000 student truck drivers after being accused of pay-practice violations.

Another major carrier, C.R. England, paid $2.35 million in back wages to more than 6,000 drivers in 2016 .

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Labor

19,000 truck drivers just scored up to $100 million from one of America’s biggest trucking companies — and it’s the latest federal court win by truckers for better labor practices

Smart-Trucking.com/YouTube Some truck drivers who worked for Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the US, are eligible for part of a total payout of as much as $100 million. The drivers had argued in a class-action suit that they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of company drivers and were thus locked…

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19,000 truck drivers just scored up to $100 million from one of America’s biggest trucking companies — and it’s the latest federal court win by truckers for better labor practices

imageSmart-Trucking.com/YouTube Some truck drivers who worked for Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the US, are eligible for part of a total payout of as much as $100 million. The drivers had argued in a class-action suit that they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of company drivers and were thus locked out of certain benefits. It’s the latest win for truck drivers in the nation’s courts . Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the US, has agreed to pay up to $100 million to 19,000 former and current truck drivers as part of a class-action suit filed in the US District Court for the District of Arizona. The truck drivers filed the suit against Swift in December 2009, arguing that they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees and were thus locked out of certain benefits under federal labor law.

One of those benefits is a minimum wage for every hour a truck driver works. Traditionally, truckers are paid for every mile they drive, but a question at the center of court cases in recent years has been whether truck drivers deserve a minimum wage for nondriving duties. Swift did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Dan Getman, an attorney representing the 19,000 truck drivers involved in the federal case, wrote in a legal statement filed on Monday that this case challenged Swift’s “owner-operator” system that allowed it and other trucking companies to employ truck drivers as independent workers even as they acted as full-time employees. “Their actions ultimately generated an exceptional $100 million-plus-dollar fund for the class of thousands of drivers and may potentially result in changes to the industry that could benefit all misclassified drivers,” Getman said. Read more: Truck drivers wait an average of 2.

5 hours at warehouses without getting paid — here are the 20 cities where truckers wait the longest Several other federal court cases around the country have sought to ensure that truck drivers are paid for every hour they spend on the road. The Supreme Court ruled in January that contract truck drivers, or owner-operators, at a Missouri trucking company should be allowed to settle disputes in court, rather than having to enter into arbitration. That suit started when the plaintiff in the case, Dominic Oliveira, sued his employer on charges that it didn’t pay him minimum wage.

In October, a federal court in Arkansas ruled in a class-action suit that drivers should be paid for every hour they spend in their trucks while not sleeping, for up to 16 hours a day of at least minimum-wage pay. In 2017, a Nebraska court decided that Werner Enterprises, a trucking giant that was accused of pay-practice violations, must pay $780,000 to about 52,000 student truck drivers. In 2016, another major carrier, C.R. England, was ordered to pay $2.35 million in back wages to more than 6,000 drivers.

More: BITranspo Trucking Truckers truck drivers Popular .

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