Winner of landmark gender equality case gets more damages on appeal

Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin sued the government in 2010 after Hulu Langat district education officers revoked her appointment as temporary teacher due to her pregnancy and refused to reinstate it. — AFP pic
Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin sued the government in 2010 after Hulu Langat district education officers revoked her appointment as temporary teacher due to her pregnancy and refused to reinstate it. — AFP pic

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 23 ― The Court of Appeal today dismissed the government's claim of profiteering in its bid to contest damages awarded to Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin who successfully sued it for refusing her a temporary teaching job because she was pregnant.

The three-member panel led by Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh, when reading the judgment, said Noorfadilla was entitled for RM30,000 for breach of constitutional rights as well as RM10,000 for pain and suffering, and RM10,000 for legal costs.

“We dismiss the cross appeal by the defendant and allow the RM30,000 for breach of constitutional protection be maintained as passed in the High Court earlier.

“Because pain and suffering cannot be included together, a separate RM10,000 will be awarded for this and RM10,000 for [legal] costs,” he said.

Senior federal counsel Mazlifah Ayob earlier submitted a cross appeal seeking for Noorfadilla to be denied any damages for pain and suffering.

She argued that there was no concrete evidence to suggest Noorfadilla had suffered from either.

Mohd Zawawi rejected this by saying pain and suffering would befall anyone who was denied their constitutional rights.

Mazlifah then agreed, but sought to argue that these could not be quantified in monetary terms, although she later went on to claim that RM5,000 was sufficient.

When met with reporters, Noorfadilla said she was happy with the decision.

“I will leave it to my lawyers whether to appeal this but at the moment I'm satisfied that this has cleared my name as previously the High Court indicated my award was tantamount to profiteering,” she said.

In February, the High Court slashed her 2014 award from RM325,000, which included mental and emotional damages, to just RM30,000.

It ruled the original sum to be inappropriate and tantamount to a “handsome profit” for her.

According to the facts of the case, Noorfadilla did not reveal her pregnancy at a job interview in Hulu Langat for a temporary teacher position in 2009 when she was three months’ pregnant. She was also not asked if she was pregnant.

At a briefing two weeks later where she collected a placement notice, she and other attendees were asked to come forth if they were pregnant, to which she and two other women complied and had their placement notices retracted the same day.

Noorfadilla then sued the government in 2010 after Hulu Langat district education officers revoked her appointment as temporary teacher due to her pregnancy and refused to reinstate it.

The Shah Alam High Court ruled in 2011 that the government had discriminated against Noorfadilla and, in the 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.

In 2014, the Shah Alam High Court awarded Noorfadilla RM300,000 in damages for breach of her constitutional right to gender equality, as well as damages of RM25,000 for emotional and mental distress, RM5,000 in costs, RM12,907.68 for loss of earnings, RM2,296.10 for loss of EPF (Employees Provident Fund), and RM912.71 for loss of EPF dividends.

Related Articles