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European Employment Law Cases


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Issue 1, 2017 Expand all abstracts
Article

2017/1 Early retirement pension cannot justify age discrimination (AU)

Keywords Age discrimination
Authors Peter C. Schöffmann and Andreas Tinhofer
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Austrian Supreme Court has held that the selection of employees for redundancy because of their entitlement to an early retirement pension constitutes unfair dismissal on grounds of direct age discrimination. Although it was accepted that individual employers (here the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) can pursue a legitimate aim within the meaning of Article 6(1) of Directive 2000/78/EC, the means to achieve that aim were not considered appropriate and necessary. The Court stressed that a balance must be struck between the interests of older and younger employees, taking into account that it is generally easier for younger employees to find a new job. In the case at hand, however, the employer had not managed to show that its redundancy selection programme met that requirement.


Peter C. Schöffmann
Peter C. Schöffmann and Andreas Tinhofer are respectively an associate and partner at MOSATI Rechtsanwälte, www.mosati.at.

Andreas Tinhofer
Peter C. Schöffmann and Andreas Tinhofer are respectively an associate and partner at MOSATI Rechtsanwälte, www.mosati.at.

    The Curia (Hungarian Supreme Court) stated in its ruling that length of service is not a protected characteristic under discrimination law. Length of employment cannot be considered as a core feature of the individual based on which he or she would belong to a specific group, as it is a result of his or her own actions. It therefore cannot be treated as a ‘miscellaneous’ ground for the purposes of the Hungarian Equal Treatment Act. Further, length of service cannot be linked to age discrimination. The length of service of an employee is not directly connected to age, therefore treatment of an employee based on length of service with a specific organisation cannot be considered age discriminatory.
    A claim based on discrimination must be supported by a comparator. Employees with different educational backgrounds and jobs with different the educational requirements, are not comparable for the purposes of equal treatment law.


Gabriella Ormai
Gabriella Ormai is the managing partner of the Budapest office of CMS Cameron McKenna LLP (www.cms-cmck.com).

    A claim for compensation for discrimination was not excluded simply because the applicant did not have the ‘objective qualifications’ necessary for the job. According to the German General Equal Treatment Act (the ‘Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz’, or ‘AGG’), what is necessary for a compensation claim is a ‘comparable situation’. According to the latest decision of the German Federal Labour Court (the ‘Bundesarbeitsgericht’, or ‘BAG’) this can occur even if the applicant does not fulfill the general requirements to do the job.


Paul Schreiner
Paul Schreiner and Nina Stephan are respectively partner and associate with Luther Rechtsanwaltgesellschaft MbH, www.luther-lawfirm.com.

Nina Stephan
Paul Schreiner and Nina Stephan are respectively partner and associate with Luther Rechtsanwaltgesellschaft MbH, www.luther-lawfirm.com.
Article

2017/4 Obesity may constitute a disability even if it is falsely presumed (BE)

Keywords Discrimination, Disability
Authors Gautier Busschaert
AbstractAuthor's information

    For the first time, a Belgian court has relied on the Kaltoft case, which holds that obesity may constitute a disability. That case gives rise to protection against discrimination, according to the Labour Tribunal of Liège, even if it is falsely presumed. This is the case where an employer sends an email to an applicant stating that the applicant cannot be hired because his or her obesity is a disability in relation to the job.


Gautier Busschaert
Gautier Busschaert is an attorney at Van Olmen & Wynant in Brussels, www.vow.be.
Article

2017/5 Unlawful dismissal of pregnant employee upon business takeover (CY)

Keywords Discrimination, Pregnancy
Authors Christiana Michael
AbstractAuthor's information

    The dismissal of a pregnant employee upon her employer’s business takeover was deemed to be unlawful discrimination.


Christiana Michael
Christiana Michael is a lawyer at George Z Georgiou & Associates LLC, www.georgezgeorgiou.com.
Article

2017/6 Danish Supreme Court holds there is no duty to reassign an employee during the notice period (DK)

Keywords Discrimination, Pregnancy, Gender Discrimination
Authors Mariann Norrbom
AbstractAuthor's information

    In a precedent-setting case, the Danish Supreme Court recently ruled that a pregnant employee under notice, who claimed discrimination because she had not been reassigned to a vacant position that arose during the notice period, was not discriminated against.


Mariann Norrbom
Mariann Norrbom is a lawyer at Norrbom Vinding in Copenhagen, www.norrbomvinding.com.

    A Spanish Supreme Court decision issued on 17 October 2016 (no. 848/2016) declares employee terminations void because the employer failed to respect the proper collective redundancy procedures based on the thresholds provided by EU Directive 98/59. The thresholds in the Directive refer to the number of employees at the establishment, whereas thresholds under Spanish law refer to the whole company. In implementing the Directive, Spanish law had aimed at being more favourable to employees, but this did not happen on the facts of this case.


Sonia Cortés
Sonia Cortés is a partner with Abdón Pedrajas & Molero, www.abdonpedrajas.com.
Article

2017/8 The importance of complying with the appropriate procedure when unilaterally amending material terms of employment, as an alternative to termination (FI)

Keywords Miscellaneous, Unilateral amendment to material terms of employment
Authors Kaj Swanljung and Janne Nurminen
AbstractAuthor's information

    Following consultations with its employees in accordance with the Finnish Codetermination Act (334/2007), a company informed the employees that it would close down its current office premises and move its operations, including all of its employees, to another location. An employee, whose employment contract expressly stipulated the location of the old office as the fixed place of work, refused to transfer and did not arrive at the new place of work after the transfer. The company considered the employee’s absence unjustified and terminated her employment with immediate effect. The Supreme Court held that an employer can, as an alternative to termination of employment, unilaterally amend material terms of employment provided it notifies the employees sufficiently clearly of the terms being amended, the time when the new terms would come into effect, the grounds for termination, and the consequences of not accepting the amendments.


Kaj Swanljung
Kaj Swanljung and Janne Nurminen are respectively a Senior Counsel and a Senior Associate with Roschier in Helsinki, www.roschier.com.

Janne Nurminen
Article

2017/9 The influence of the threat of terrorism on the right to strike (NL)

Keywords Industrial action, Strike
Authors Ruben Houweling and Amber Zwanenburg
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Dutch Cantonal judge prohibited a strike because the safety of passengers could not be guaranteed. At the hearing, which took place a few days after the Berlin Christmas market attacks, weight was given to the threat of terrorism. Nor is this the first time the threat of terrorism has been explicitly referred to by a Dutch court in a case concerning the right to strike.


Ruben Houweling
Ruben Houweling and Amber Zwanenburg are respectively a professor and a lecturer of Labour Law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Amber Zwanenburg
Article

2017/10 Uber drivers found to be workers (UK)

Keywords Employment Tribunal
Authors Bethan Carney
AbstractAuthor's information

    In a much publicised case, Uber drivers have won a first instance employment tribunal finding that they are ‘workers’ and not self-employed contractors. This decision means that they are entitled to basic protections, such as the national minimum wage, paid holiday (under the Working Time Directive) and protection against detriment for ‘blowing the whistle’ on wrong doing. The decision could have substantial financial consequences for Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers in the UK but Uber has already confirmed that it will appeal the decision, so we are unlikely to have a final determination on this question for some time.


Bethan Carney
Bethan Carney is a lawyer at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.
ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 24 November 2016, case C-443/15 (Parris), Sex discrimination

David L. Parris – v – Trinity College Dublin and Others, Irish Case

Keywords Discrimination, Sex discrimination
Abstract

    The ECJ found that a gay lecturer was not unlawfully discriminated against under an occupational pension scheme that did not entitle those over a certain age or sexual orientation to claim a survivor’s benefit for their (same-sex) civil partner or spouse.

ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 24 November 2016, case C 454/15 (Webb-Sämann), Social policy

Jürgen Webb-Sämann – v – Christopher Seagon, German case

Keywords Social policy
Abstract

    Under Article 8 of Directive 2008/94, if an employer becomes insolvent in circumstances where it previously withheld funds from an employee’s salary to pay into an occupational pension scheme – but then failed to make those payments – there is no requirement to exclude those funds from the scope of insolvency proceedings.

ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 1 December 2016, case C-395/15 (Daouidi), Discrimination

Mohamed Daouidi – v – Bootes Plus SL, Fondo de GarantíaSalarial and Ministerio Fiscal, Spanish case

Keywords Discrimination
Abstract

    A ‘temporary’ inability to work may qualify as a ‘long-term’ limitation within the meaning of the ECJ’s case law on Directive 2000/78. Whether this is the case is for the national court to determine. The court may take into account that it is not clear how long the person may take to recover.

ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 21 December 2016, case C-539/15 (Bowman), Age discrimination

Daniel Bowman – v – Pensionsversicherungsanstalt, Austrian case

Keywords Discrimination
Abstract

    Requiring staff to complete five service years before progressing from the first to the second step on the salary scale, but requiring only two service years for each next step, is not age-discriminatory.

ECJ Court Watch

ECJ (Grand Chamber) 21 December 2016, case C-201/15 (AGET Iraklis), Collective redundancies

Anonymi Geniki Etairia Tsimenton Iraklis (AGET Iraklis) – v – Ypourgos Ergasias, Koinonikis Asfalisis kai Koinonikis Allilengyis; intervener: Enosi Ergazomenon Tsimenton Chalkidas, Greek case

Keywords Collective redundancies
Abstract

    Where no agreement is reached with employee representatives on a planned collective redundancy, the employer must try to obtain permission from the Minister for Labour – who rarely gives it. The employer in this case argued successfully that this was a serious obstacle to its to freedom to establish and conduct business in Greece.

ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 21 December 2016, joined cases C-508/15 (Ucar) and C-509/15 (Kilic), Free movement, residence

Sidika Ucar and Recep Kilic – v – Land Berlin, German case

Keywords Free movement, Residence
Abstract

    These cases relate to Decision 1/80 of the ‘Association Council’, a body established pursuant to the 1963 Association Agreement between Turkey and the EU. In both cases, the German immigration authorities had rejected an application to extend the residence permit of a Turkish national but the ECJ found they had a right of residence.

ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 15 December 2016, joined cases C-401/15 to C-403/15 (Depesme), Free movement, social insurance

Noémie Depesme (C-401/15), Saïd Kerrou (C-401/15), Adrien Kauffmann (C-402/15) and Maxime Lefort (C-403/15) – v – Ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, Luxembourgian case

Keywords Free movement, Social insurance
Abstract

    These cases concern the refusal by Luxembourg to grant financial aid to students studying in Luxembourg whilst living in France or Belgium, when they would be entitled to such aid under Regulation 492/2011 on free movement (pursuant to Article 45 TFEU), based on their family circumstances, were it not that the person employed in Luxembourg was not their father but their stepfather. The ECJ found in favour of the students.

ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 1 February 2017, case C-430/15 (Tolley), Free movement, social insurance

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – v – Tolley, British case

Keywords Free movement, Social insurance
Abstract

    Mrs Tolley, a disabled UK national, emigrated from the UK to Spain in 2002, at age 50. Before she left the UK, because she was unable to prepare a meal for herself, she was in receipt of DLA (disability living allowance) benefits. These benefits were stopped when she left the UK, because under UK law, only residents are eligible. Mrs Tolley appealed successfully to the First-tier Tribunal. Its decision was upheld by the Upper Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. The Secretary of State appealed to the Supreme Court, which referred questions to the ECJ, all relating to Regulation 1408/71 on the coordination of social security legislation within the EU (now Regulation 883/2004). The ECJ found in Mrs Tolley’s favour.

ECJ Court Watch

Case C-472/16. Transfer of undertakings

Jorge Luis Colino Sigüenza – v – Ayuntamiento de Valladolid, In-pulso Musical, Sociedad Cooperativa, reference lodged by the Spanish Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Castilla y León on 24 August 2016

Keywords Transfer of undertakings
ECJ Court Watch

Case C-474/16. Social security

The public prosecutor, Belu Dienstleistung GmbH & Co KG, Stefan Nikless, reference lodged by the French Cour d’appel de Colmar on 29 August 2016

Keywords Social security
ECJ Court Watch

Case C-482/16. Age discrimination

Georg Stollwitzer – v –ÖBB Personenverkehr AG, reference lodged by the Austrian Oberlandesgericht Innsbruck on 7 September 2016

Keywords Age discrimination
ECJ Court Watch

Case C-494/16. Fixed-term employment

Giuseppa Santoro – v – Comune di Valderice, Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, reference lodged by the Italian Tribunale civile di Trapani on 15 September 2016

Keywords Fixed-term employment
ECtHR Court Watch

ECtHR 25 October 2016, application nos. 45197/13, 53000/13 and 73404/13, Diplomatic immunity in labour relations

Radunović and Others – v – Montenegro, Montenegronian case

Keywords Diplomatic immunity in labour relations
ECtHR Court Watch

ECtHR 8 November 2016, application 26126/07, Diplomatic immunity in labour relations

Naku – v – Lithuania and Sweden, Lithuanian and Swedish case

Keywords Diplomatic immunity in labour relations