A woman doctor in Meghalaya capital Shillong has lost her job, apparently because she is pregnant.
The service of Rachael RA Rapsang, the dental officer at the Presbyterian Church-run Dr H Gordon Roberts Hospital, was allegedly terminated after she applied for a nine-month maternity leave.
“She applied for leave to the hospital’s medical superintendent. But she was fired besides being asked to refund the money she had been paid in advance,” Kitboklang Nongphlang, one of her associates at the hospital, said.
Hospital insiders said she had submitted the leave application to medical superintendent David D Tariang on May 13. She was told on July 16 that the hospital’s executive committee “regretted” that the maternity leave could not be considered as there was no provision for it in her contract.
“As such your service as a contract staff is automatically discontinued with effect from June 1, and the pay already drawn by you for June 15 is to be refunded,” said a letter received by Rapsang.
Rapsang could not be contacted for her reaction. But colleagues said she had been serving in the hospital for the past five years. Her service contract, extended by a year, was to have expired in April next year.
“Ours is not a private hospital where anybody can act on his or her own. This is not a case of termination but self-termination because no organisation would grant a person on a year’s contract leave for nine months. However, the doctor in question can reapply if she wants to,” Tariang told HT from Shillong.
Tshering Yangi, former member of Meghalaya State Commission for Women, said Rapsang’s was a case of violation of fundamental rights. “An adult woman has every right to go the family way,” she said.
Legal experts said contract termination for pregnancy can be legally challenged.
“Clauses such as pregnancy or illness of a member of a person’s family cannot or should not be incorporated in a job contract. And it also does not matter whether an adult woman is married or not,” said Assam-based lawyer Ashok Karmakar.