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Journal European Employment Law Cases x Year 2016 x Category Case Reports x

    A company had leased some employees from a temporary work agency between 2008 and 2012 to work alongside its own employees on a continuous basis. The collective bargaining agreement that the company was bound by restricted the use of temporary agency workers to situations in which the work could not be performed by the company’s own staff. The trade union brought an action before the Labour Court claiming that the company had used temporary agency workers continuously to a greater extent than permitted by the collective bargaining agreement and that the employers’ association, of which the company was a member, had breached its supervisory duty. In a preliminary ruling, the ECJ held that the Temporary Agency Work Directive (2008/104/EC) does not oblige national courts to refuse to apply national law containing prohibitions or restrictions, even if those restrictions were not justified. Having confirmed that national restrictions may be applied, the Labour Court imposed a compensatory fine of € 3,000 on the company and € 4,000 on the employers’ association.


Kaj Swanljung

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

    The French state was held liable by the Administrative Court of Clermont-Ferrand for failing to transpose Article 7§1 of EU Directive 2003/88/EC on working time.


Claire Toumieux
Claire Toumieux and Susan Ekrami are a partner and associate with Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, www.allenovery.com.

Susan Ekrami

    A staffing agency rejected an application for an advertised job because the applicant refused to remove her hijab. The court of first instance saw no discrimination, the Court of Appeal did. The plaintiff was awarded €500 but had to bear her own legal expenses.


Caterina Rucci
Caterina Rucci is a partner at Bird & Bird in Milan, www.twobirds.com.

    The Supreme Court of Lithuania recently affirmed that the courts have no competence to assess the merits of an employer’s decision to restructure and make staff redundant, as the decision was at the employer’s discretion to make.


Inga Klimašauskienė
Inga Klimašauskienė is an Associate Partner at GLIMSTEDT Law Firm in Vilnius, www.glimstedt.lt.

    The Danish Supreme Court has ruled that a provision in a collective agreement allowing employers to pay reduced allowances for working in the evenings, on nights and at weekends to employees under the age of 25 in full-time education and working no more than 15 hours a week was not in conflict with the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act since it was justified by a legitimate aim.


Mariann Norrbom
Mariann Norrbom is a partner of Norrbom Vinding, Copenhagen, www.norrbomvinding.com.

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) has upheld an Employment Tribunal’s (‘ET’s’) finding that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) was not engaged when an employer used private material obtained by the police during a criminal investigation as part of an internal disciplinary investigation into one of its employees. This material had been taken from the claimant’s phone by the police, who then provided it to the employer (stating that it could be used for the purposes of their investigation). The facts in this case were unusual. Whether or not an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy in similar circumstances will depend on all the facts, including the source of the information, whether the employee has expressly objected to its use, and whether the relevant conduct took place in, or was brought into, the workplace.


Anna Bond
Anna Bond is an associate at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.

    Article 60(1)(g) of the Romanian Labour Code does not allow an employer to dismiss trade union leaders for reasons other than disciplinary misconduct or judicial reorganisation, dissolution or bankruptcy of the employer. The Constitutional Court has recently ruled that Article 60(1)(g) is unconstitutional.


Andreea Suciu
Andreea Suciu is Head of Employment & Pensions with Noerr in Bucharest, www.noerr.com.

    A decision issued by the Constitutional Court on 3 March 2016 upholds a High Court decision on whether evidence obtained through video surveillance at the work place without previously informing the employee or the works council of the recording infringes employees’ privacy. The existence of cameras in the workplace was only made known via a sticker on the shop window, but the Constitutional Court found that it provided sufficient information to employees. The Court found that, as there was a prior suspicion of theft by the employee, temporary recording of the cashier area was lawful and did not require prior consent. The judgment sets out the criteria to be used to determine a fair balance between the competing interests of employee privacy and the employer’s right to compliance.


Sonia Cortes
Sonia Cortes is a partner with Abdón Pedrajas & Molero in Barcelona, www.abdonpedrajas.com. Special thanks to Isabel Ruano and Carla Baussa for their help in preparing this case report.

    For the fourth time in seven years, an Austrian court has asked the ECJ for guidance on the subject of age discrimination in pay scales. In this latest case, the period required to progress from step 1 to step 2 on the pay scale was longer than the period needed to progress from step 2 to step 3 and beyond. Does that constitute age discrimination? The author argues that it does, and that the arguments advanced to justify it are not valid.


Dr. Marta J. Glowacka
Dr. Marta J. Glowacka, LL.M. is an assistant professor at the Institute for Austrian and European Labour Law and Social Security Law at Vienna University of Economics and Business, www.wu.ac.at.

    An employee challenged whether her employer’s refusal to provide childcare vouchers during maternity leave was discriminatory. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) determined, somewhat tentatively, that where childcare vouchers are provided through a salary sacrifice scheme, it is not discriminatory for employers to cease to provide childcare vouchers during maternity leave.


Catherine Hayes
Catherine Hayes is an Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.

    It was neither direct nor indirect discrimination when a municipality dismissed a childminder with a disabled child, since the decision to dismiss was based on the interests of safeguarding children in the municipality’s childminding services, by not taking them out of their usual environment and placing them with a childminder they did not know.


Mariann Norrbom
Mariann Norrbom is a partner of Norrbom Vinding in Copenhagen, www.norrbomvinding.com.
Case Reports

2016/24 Claimant required to show the ‘reason why’ the underlying reason behind a practice was indirectly discriminatory (UK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Race discrimination, Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, Indirect discrimination, Underlying reason for PCP
Authors Anna Bond
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Court of Appeal (‘CoA’) has held that there was no indirect discrimination where the underlying reason behind a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ (‘PCP’) operated by an employer was not discriminatory. The claim of indirect discrimination was brought by Mr Naeem, who is employed by the Prison Service as a full-time imam at HMP Bullingdon. Until 2002, the Prison Service employed only Christian chaplains full-time due to a lack of demand for chaplains of other faiths (who were employed on a sessional basis only). From 2002, it started to hire full-time Muslim as well as Christian chaplains due to an increase in the number of Muslim prisoners.
    The prison system’s pay scale rewards length of service and pay rises are linked to both performance and length of full-time service. Mr Naeem argued that this had a disproportionate negative effect on Muslims, as they could not have been employed for as long as Christians. The CoA rejected this claim, based on the fact that the underlying reason for the difference was the lack of demand for Muslim chaplains before 2002, and that this was not discriminatory.
    This case follows the 2015 CoA case of Essop v Home Office [2015] EWCA Civ 609, which was the first case to add in this extra layer to the indirect discrimination test. According to these cases, a claimant must now show not only that a particular practice particularly disadvantaged them, but also why this is the case. In both cases, appeals have been made to the Supreme Court and these are expected to be heard together later this year.


Anna Bond
Anna Bond is an associate at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.

    Following the latest case law of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, it is not enough to state that an employee cannot work for a competitor during their employment. It is necessary to pay compensation in order for the non-compete obligation to be legally enforceable, because of the onerous nature of the obligation.


Inga Klimašauskienė
Inga Klimašauskienė is an Associate Partner at GLIMSTEDT in Vilnius, www.glimstedt.lt.

    In businesses employing fewer than ten employees, the rules on unfair dismissal do not apply. However, those on discrimination do. This fact made it possible for the 63 year-old employee in this case to claim damages, effectively for unfair dismissal. She had been dismissed following a reduction in the available work. She was selected for redundancy because she was less qualified than her colleagues. However, her termination letter mentioned that she had become “eligible for retirement”. This remark created a presumption of age discrimination, which the employer was not able to rebut.


Paul Schreiner

Dagmar Hellenkemper
Paul Schreiner and Dagmar Hellenkemper are lawyers with Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, www.luther-lawfirm.com.

    The Supreme Court in this case establishes conditions to be met in order for the member of a Board of Directors to qualify as a self-employed “entrepreneur”. In light of these conditions, Directors must be considered to have the status of “individual contractor”, obligating them to pay increased social security contributions.


Marcin Wujczyk Ph.D.
Marcin Wujczyk, Ph.D., is a partner with Ksiazek & Bigaj in Krakow, www.ksiazeklegal.pl.

    Following a restructure of his employer, an over 50 year old employee was deprived of the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy, compared to his under 50 year old colleagues, because it would have triggered early retirement resulting in a higher redundancy package. The Employment Tribunal (‘ET’) held that the use of under 50 year old comparators was not appropriate because the comparators were not entitled to early retirement and were therefore in materially different circumstances compared to the claimant. On appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’), the EAT held that the fact that the comparators were not entitled to early retirement was not a “relevant circumstance” making the comparators invalid. A prima facie case of direct age discrimination was therefore made out. The EAT remitted the case back to the original ET to determine if the employer’s direct discrimination could be justified.


Sarah O’Brien
Sarah O’Brien is a trainee solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    The Belgian Labour Court decided in this case that the attitude/behaviour of an employer towards an employee constitutes harassment and discrimination, as the behaviour was such that the employee could have had the impression that he could lose his job because of his state of health. The employee resumed work after long-term incapacity owing to heart disease, but only on a part-time basis.
    The Court considered that the successive actions of the employer towards his employee were aimed at ending his employment rather than actively promoting reintegration. Such behaviour, on the facts, could be considered as harassment and discrimination.
    Moreover, the Court specified that the health of the employee, who had partially resumed work after being off sick for heart disease, could be regarded as a disability in accordance with EU Directive 2000/78. The Court explicitly referred to the ECJ HK Danmark case.


Isabel Plets

Karl Goethals
Isabel Plets and Karl Goethals are lawyers with Lydian in Brussels, www.lydian.be.

    The employee, a public servant, criticised her employer’s director in an email that she sent all of her co-workers. The email made its way into a newspaper. She was dismissed. She challenged her dismissal successfully: the Supreme Court, weighing the employee’s right to freedom of speech against the employer’s right to protect its reputation and business interests, held the dismissal to be unfounded.


Nives Slemenjak
Nives Slemenjak is an associate at Schoenherr, in Ljubljana: www.schoenherr.eu.

    A general prohibition against displaying religious, political and philosophical symbols constitutes indirect discrimination which fails to meet the proportionality requirement. In this case the court took account of the fact that it was possible for the employer to distinguish between back-office and front-office work (the claimant worked in a back office position) and also because of the absence of complaints by colleagues or clients and the absence of any attempt by the claimant to encourage other women to wear a headscarf.


Gautier Busschaert
Gautier Busschaert is a lawyer with Van Olmen & Wynant in Brussels, www.Vow.be.

    An employer that fails to comply with an occupational doctor’s recommendation regarding an employee’s health, as it relates to his job, is in breach of its health and safety obligations.


Delphine Levy Karcenty
Delphine Levy Karcenty is an avocat with Jeantet in Paris, www.jeantet.fr.
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