Relevance of contractual terms to protections for employed women who are pregnant or breastfeeding in Colombia

Country: Colombia
Body: Constitutional Court of Colombia
Case number: Judgment No. SU-070-13
Year of judgement: 2013

This case addressed the circumstances of thirty-three women who had been dismissed from various forms of employment on the basis of being pregnant. Article 53 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Colombia allows for the direct application of international law by domestic legal bodies. Ratified conventions and treaties, as well as domestic provisions pertaining to the elimination of discrimination between women and men were taken into account by the Court. While notification of pregnancy provided to the employer could serve to determine the type of legal protection, it was found that if pregnancy occurred during any employment relationship (including permanent contracts, fixed-term contracts, temporary contracts for specific projects, agency workers, and civil servants appointed by means of administrative acts, and commercial contracts), the obligation to provide some degree of protections existed.


The case effectively established that by merit of both domestic law and international standards, all women were entitled to legal protections for their employment in relation to pregnancy, maternity and nursing. It dispelled assertions that women in certain types of contracts were excluded from basic protections and sought to further reduce inequality of women and men in the workplace.


Case Title: Tutela lodged individually by 33 women vs. various individuals and legal entities

Date of Judgement: 13 February 2013, [Link to official record, Spanish only]

Social Protection and Human Rights