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Case Law

2022/1 EELC’s review of the year 2021

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2022
Authors Niklas Bruun, Filip Dorssemont, Zef Even e.a.
Abstract

    Various of our academic board analysed employment law cases from last year.


Niklas Bruun

Filip Dorssemont

Zef Even

Ruben Houweling

Marianne Hrdlicka

Anthony Kerr

Attila Kun

Jean-Philippe Lhernould

Daiva Petrylaitė

Luca Ratti

Jan-Pieter Vos

    The Federal Labour Court of Germany has continued to specify the requirements for the legality of age limits in employer-funded pension plans under German law. In this case, according to the Court, the employer could impose a maximum age of 55 as a requirement of entry to the company pension plan.


Othmar K. Traber
Othmar Traber is a partner at Ahlers & Vogel, Bremen.
Rulings

ECJ 24 February 2022, case C-389/20 (TGSS (domestic worker unemployment)), Gender Discrimination, Social Insurance

CJ – v – Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social (TGSS), Spanish case

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2022
Keywords Gender Discrimination, Social Insurance
Abstract

    Legislation excluding domestic workers from unemployment benefits found indirectly discriminatory.

Article

Fit for Office? The Perception of Female and Male Politicians by Dutch Voters

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords political underrepresentation, gender stereotypes, role incongruity, candidate evaluation, experimental vignette study
Authors Rozemarijn E. van Dijk and Joop van Holsteyn
AbstractAuthor's information

    The underrepresentation of women in politics is a worldwide phenomenon and the Netherlands fit the pattern: about 39% of the Dutch MPs are female. Based on social role incongruity theory, it is expected that female politicians are evaluated more negatively than male politicians since women do not fit the dominant male politician role. However, most research is conducted in the United States, that is, a candidate-centred system where individual characteristics play an important role. This article focuses on the party-centred parliamentary context in which we examine (1) whether gender stereotypes are present among citizens and (2) to what extent these stereotypes influence the evaluation of politicians. We do this by conducting an experimental vignette survey design. We find that at the mass level there is no difference between the evaluation of male and female politicians, although gender stereotypes are present.


Rozemarijn E. van Dijk
Rozemarijn E. van Dijk is a PhD student at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Joop van Holsteyn
Joop J.M. van Holsteyn is Professor in Political Behaviour and Research Methods at Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Article

Appendix Fit for Office? The Perception of Female and Male Politicians by Dutch Voters

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords political underrepresentation, gender stereotypes, role incongruity, candidate evaluation, experimental vignette study
Authors Rozemarijn Esmee van Dijk and Joop van Holsteyn
AbstractAuthor's information

    The underrepresentation of women in politics is a worldwide phenomenon and the Netherlands fit the pattern: about 39% of the Dutch MPs are female. Based on social role incongruity theory, it is expected that female politicians are evaluated more negatively than male politicians since women do not fit the dominant male politician role. However, most research is conducted in the United States, that is, a candidate-centred system where individual characteristics play an important role. This article focuses on the party-centred parliamentary context in which we examine (1) whether gender stereotypes are present among citizens and (2) to what extent these stereotypes influence the evaluation of politicians. We do this by conducting an experimental vignette survey design. We find that at the mass level there is no difference between the evaluation of male and female politicians, although gender stereotypes are present.


Rozemarijn Esmee van Dijk
Rozemarijn E. van Dijk is a PhD student at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Joop van Holsteyn
Joop J.M. van Holsteyn is Professor in Political Behaviour and Research Methods at Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Article

Online Mediation and e-commerce (B2B and B2C) Disputes

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 2 2021
Keywords ODR, online Mediation, e-commerce, business-to business (B2B), business-to consumer (B2C)
Authors Mariam Skhulukhia
AbstractAuthor's information

    Nowadays, electronic commerce plays a significant role in our society as internet transactions continue to grow in the business industry. Electronic commerce mainly refers to commercial transactions, such as business-to-business and business-to-consumer. Disputes are inevitable, part of our lives. Simultaneously by developing technology the need for an effective dispute resolution was obvious. Information communication technology and alternative dispute resolution together created online dispute resolution. Businesses and consumers are actively engaged in online dispute resolution. Therefore, the use of the internet makes business or consumer transactions easier. The online environment is much flexible when it comes to electronic commerce. This article focuses on online mediation, one of the most popular forms of online dispute resolution.


Mariam Skhulukhia
Mariam Skhulukhia has a Bachelor’s degree in law and a Master’s degree in International Business law from the University of Georgia. She participated in the Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition (CDRC VIENNA) in 2018 and the John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition in 2019. Mariam was an intern at Tbilisi City Court in Civil Affairs Board. Also, she worked as a lawyer for residency and citizenship matters at a foreign company. She has successfully passed a Bar Exam (Civil Law Specialization) in 2021. Mariam wrote her Master’s thesis: “Why do we need Online Mediation? Possible Challenges and Perspectives for Online Commercial Mediation in Georgia.” She also submitted her Research Paper titled “Mediating Online: Among the Praises and Diatribes in MediateGuru’s edited book titled “A Pathway to the Future of ADR: Comparative Perspectives around the World.”

    Terms-of-service based actions against political and state actors as both key subjects and objects of political opinion formation have become a focal point of the ongoing debates over who should set and enforce the rules for speech on online platforms.
    With minor differences depending on national contexts, state regulation of platforms creating obligations to disseminate such actors’ information is considered dangerous for the free and unhindered discursive process that leads to the formation of public opinions.
    Reactions to the suspension of Trump as not the first, but the most widely discussed action of platform companies against a politician (and incumbent president) provide a glimpse on the state of platform governance debates across participating countries.
    Across the countries surveyed politicians tend to see the exercise of content moderation policies of large platform companies very critically
    The majority of politicians in European countries seem to be critical of the deplatforming of Trump, emphasizing fundamental rights and calling for such decisions to be made by states, not private companies
    These political standpoints stand in an unresolved conflict with the constitutional realities of participating countries, where incumbents usually cannot invoke fundamental rights when acting in their official capacities and where laws with “must carry” requirements for official information do not exist for social media and would likely only be constitutional for narrowly defined, special circumstances such as disaster prevention.
    Facebooks’ referral of the Trump-decision to its Oversight Board sparked a larger debate about institutional structures for improving content governance. The majority of participating countries has experience with self- or co-regulatory press-, media- or broadcasting councils to which comparisons can be drawn, foreshadowing the possible (co-regulatory) future of governing online speech.
    Media commentators in participating countries interpreted the deplatforming of Trump as a signal that far-right parties and politicians around the world may face increasing scrutiny, while conservative politicians and governments in multiple participating countries instrumentalized the actions against Trump as supposed proof of platform’s bias against conservative opinions.
    Even without specific legal requirements on content moderation, submissions from several countries refer to a general – often: constitutional – privileging of speech of politicians and office holders. This could potentially support or even compel the decisions of platforms to leave content of political actors up even if it violates their terms of service.


Martin Fertmann
Martin Fertmann is a PhD student at the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut’s research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces”

Matthias C. Kettemann
Prof. dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) is head of the research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces” at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.
Case Reports

Access_open 2021/36 No discrimination of reduced hours employees (DK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2021
Keywords Disability Discrimination
Authors Christian K. Clasen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In four recent cases, the Danish Eastern High Court addressed the question of whether it was indirect disability discrimination to dismiss four reduced hours employees (fleksjobbere) as part of a cost-saving process because they lacked essential core skills. The High Court ruled in favour of the employer, stating that the employer was not required to maintain the employees’ employment as it would be incompatible with the new demands for qualifications caused by the cutbacks. Consequently, the dismissals did not constitute indirect disability discrimination.


Christian K. Clasen
Christian K. Clasen is a partner at Norrbom Vinding, Copenhagen.
Article

Sustainability in Global Supply Chains Under the CISG

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2021
Keywords CISG, sustainability, supply chains, UN Global Compact, Codes of Conduct, conformity of the goods
Authors Ingeborg Schwenzer and Edgardo Muñoz
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, the authors assert that the United Nations Convention for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) can contribute to tackling gaps in statutory legislation and defective business conduct that have been associated with unsustainable trade in Global Supply Chains (GSCs). The authors provide evidence that the CISG contains rules enabling a general legal framework for establishing uniform sustainable standards for goods concerning suppliers, sellers and buyers located in different countries. For instance, the CISG provisions on contract formation ease the incorporation of joint codes of conduct for sustainable trade in GSCs. In addition, the contracting parties’ circumstances and current trade usages are now more relevant to determine what constitutes conformity of the goods under the contract and the default warranties in Article 35 CISG. On the level of remedies, the authors show that best-efforts provisions, possibly included in a code of conduct or inferred from standards applicable to the goods, may redefine the notion of impediment in Article 79 CISG, which could lead to exoneration of liability for the seller. They also demonstrate why fundamental breach and the calculation of damages are at the centre of the discussion regarding the remedies for breach of an obligation to deliver sustainable goods.


Ingeborg Schwenzer
Ingeborg Schwenzer is Dean of the Swiss International Law School (SiLS), Professor emerita of Private Law at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and past Chair of the CISG Advisory Council. Dr. iur. (Freiburg i.Br.), LLM (UC Berkeley).

Edgardo Muñoz
Edgardo Muñoz is Professor of Law, Universidad Panamericana. Facultad de Derecho. Calzada Álvaro del Portillo 49, Zapopan, Jalisco, 45010, México. PhD (Basel), LLM (UC Berkeley), LLM (Liverpool), LLB (UIA Mexico), DEUF (Lyon). This research has been funded by Universidad Panamericana through the grant ‘Fomento a la Investigación UP 2020’, under project code UP-CI-2020-GDL-04-DER.
Public Health Emergency: National, European and International Law Responses

Defining the Common European Way of Life

Exploring the Concept of Europeanness

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords European identity, Common European Way of Life, coronavirus, European citizenship, Hungary, enlargement policy, Europeanness
Authors Lilla Nóra Kiss and Orsolya Johanna Sziebig
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article focuses on the interpretation of the European Way of Life and the concept of Europeanness. Ursula von der Leyen determined the Promotion of the European Way of Life as a priority of the 2019-2024 Commission. The purpose behind this was to strengthen European democracy and place the citizens into the center of decision-making. The article examines the role of European identity, European citizenship and those historical-traditional conditions that make our way of life ‘common’. The Common European Way of Life may be defined as a value system based on the established legal basis of EU citizenship that can be grasped in the pursuit of common principles and the exercise of rights guaranteed to all EU citizens, limited only under exceptional circumstances and ensuring socio-economic convergence. The article covers general conceptual issues but also focuses on the extraordinary impact of the COVID-19. Lastly, the relevant aspects of enlargement policy are also explored.


Lilla Nóra Kiss
Lilla Nóra Kiss: Visiting Scholar at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, Virginia, US.

Orsolya Johanna Sziebig
Orsolya Johanna Sziebig: senior lecturer, University of Szeged.
Anniversary: Commemorating the 90th Birthday of Ferenc Mádl, President of the Republic (2000-2005)

Back to the Future: Ferenc Mádl, The Law of the European Economic Community (1974)

Investment Protection Then and Now

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Ferenc Mádl, investment protection, SEGRO and Horváth, Achmea, BIT
Authors Miklós Király
AbstractAuthor's information

    The first part of the article (Sections 1-2) reviews Prof. Ferenc Mádl’s magnum opus, published in 1974, emphasizing the importance of the monograph’s publication in the communist era. It discusses the unique structure of the volume, which, from the perspective of undertakings and companies, examined the fundamental economic freedoms and EEC competition law in parallel. The second part (Sections 3-5) highlights the issue of investment protection, noting that Mádl’s early academic theorem has been vindicated decades later by the case-law of the CJEU, in particular in its SEGRO and Horváth judgment: Provisions ensuring free movement of capital serve to protect foreign investments as well.


Miklós Király
Miklós Király: professor of law, ELTE Law School, Budapest.

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that ‘gender critical’ beliefs are protected philosophical beliefs for equality law purposes, while confirming that a belief in ‘gender identity’ is also a protected characteristic. This means that it is unlawful to discriminate against someone because they do or do not hold either of those beliefs.


Bethan Carney
Bethan Carney is a Managing Practice Development Lawyer, Lewis Silkin LLP.
Landmark Ruling

ECJ 15 July 2021, joined cases C-804/18 and C-341/19 (WABE), Religious Discrimination

IX – v – WABE eV and MH Müller Handels GmbH – v – MJ, German cases

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2021
Keywords Religious Discrimination
Abstract

    An employer’s need to present a neutral image may justify a prohibition on any visible expression of beliefs, but must correspond to a genuine need, notwithstanding the specific national context end more favourable national provisions.

    In its decision rendered on 29 September 2020, the Austrian Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof, ‘OGH’) ruled that periods of prior professional services completed with employers in the EU or the EEA other than the current employer must be taken into account for salary classifications to guarantee the freedom of movement of workers under Article 45 TFEU.


Stefan Zischka
Stefan Zischka is Partner at Jank Weiler Operenyi Attorneys at Law / Deloitte Legal Austria.

Christina Feistritzer
Christina Feistritzer is Associate at Jank Weiler Operenyi Attorneys at Law / Deloitte Legal Austria.

    The UK’s Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that retail staff of the supermarket chain Asda can compare themselves under UK law to higher-paid distribution depot staff for the purposes of an equal pay claim. In a separate case against Tesco, the ECJ subsequently confirmed that the company’s shop workers can rely directly on EU law to compare themselves to distribution centre workers for the purposes of such a claim.


Carolyn Soakell
Carolyn Soakell is a partner at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    Following up on the ECJ’s judgment in the Kalliri case, the Greek Council of State (Conseil d’État) held in a Plenary Session decision that a legal provision of Presidential Decree 90/2003 requiring that candidates for admission to the Greek Officers and Policemen School must be at least 1.70 m, independently of their sex, was indirectly discriminatory against female candidates. It based its decision on Directive 76/207/EEC as well as principles of the Greek constitution.


Effie Mitsopoulou
Effie Mitsopoulou is an attorney-at-law at Effie Mitsopoulou Law Office.
Article

Performing the COVID-19 Crisis in Flemish Populist Radical-Right Discourse

A Case Study of Vlaams Belang’s Coronablunderboek

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords populism, COVID-19, crisis, discourse
Authors Jens Meijen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In June 2020, the Flemish populist radical right party Vlaams Belang (VB) published the Corona Blunder Book (CBB; Coronablunderboek in Dutch), detailing the government’s mistakes in handling the COVID-19 crisis. Populist parties can ‘perform’ crisis by emphasising the mistakes made by opponents (Moffitt, 2015) and may use a specifically populist discursive style, consisting largely of aggressive and sarcastic language (Brubaker, 2017). This paper takes the CBB as a case study in the populist performance of crisis and the populist style, finding that the book is, first, a clear example of populist ‘everyman’ stylistics and the performance of crisis, and, second, that VB uses the book to shift the COVID-19 crisis from a public health crisis to a crisis of governance, seeking to blame Belgium’s federal structure for the government’s alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and hence arguing for Flemish independence, one of the party’s main agenda points.


Jens Meijen
Jens Meijen is a PhD candidate at Leuven International and European Studies (LINES) at KU Leuven. His research focuses on nationalism, populism, and diplomacy.
Article

Access_open The Resilience of Democracy in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Democratic Compensators in Belgium, the Netherlands and France

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords COVID-19, crisis-management, democratic compensators, exceptionalism
Authors Tom Massart, Thijs Vos, Clara Egger e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since January 2020, European countries have implemented a wide range of restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet governments have also implemented democratic compensators in order to offset the negative impacts of restrictions. This article aims to account for the variation of their use between Belgium, the Netherlands and France. We analyse three drivers: the strength of counterpowers, the ruling parties’ ideological leanings and political support. Building on an original data set, our results distinguish between embedded and ad hoc compensators. We find that ad hoc compensators are championed mainly by counterpowers, but also by ideology of the ruling coalitions in Belgium and the Netherlands and used strategically to maintain political support in France. Evidence on the link between embedded compensators and counterpowers is more ambiguous.


Tom Massart
Tom Massart is a PhD candidate at ULB / CEVIPOL. His research mainly focuses on European economic governance.

Thijs Vos
Thijs Vos is a political scientist and research assistant at Groningen University.

Clara Egger
Clara Egger is assistant professor in international relations at Groningen University. She is currently leading the Exceptius project on Covid19 containment policies in Europe.

Claire Dupuy
Claire Dupuy is professor of comparative politics at UCLouvain. She specializes in comparative public policy with a focus on multilevel governance, federalism and regionalization processes.

Constance Morel-Jean
Constance Morel-Jean is a master’s student at Grenoble-Alpes University. She specialises in the study of political behaviour.

Raul Magni-Berton
Raul Magni-Berton is professor of political science at Grenoble-Alpes University, PACTE research unit. His research mainly focuses on democracy, its institutions and norms.

Sébastian Roché
Sebastian Roché is CNRS Research Professor at Grenoble-Alpes University, PACTE research unit. He specializes in policing and legitimacy studies.
Case Reports

Access_open 2021/13 Equal Treatment Authority’s decision does not bind the court (HU)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Race, Nationality Discrimination, Discrimination General
Authors Zsofia Olah
AbstractAuthor's information

    This case involved an employee who claimed that her two consecutive employers breached the principle of equal treatment during their employment relationships in relation to her belonging to the Roma minority. The employee built her case on the decision of the Equal Treatment Authority, which declared that her employers discriminated against her. The Curia (the highest judicial authority in Hungary) found that the decision of another authority has no binding effect on a court according to Act III of 1952 on Civil Procedure and that in cases concerning equal treatment, the burden of proof lies on the defendant (employer) to prove that there is no link between the disadvantage suffered by the plaintiff (employee) and her protected characteristic. The Curia and regional courts also found that the employer fulfils this obligation if it successfully proves that it assessed the applicant’s qualifications, professional suitability and attitude towards work when it decided on the question of whom to employ.


Zsofia Olah
Zsofia Olah is a partner at OPL Law Firm.

    On 12 October 2020, the Labour Court of Appeal of Ghent ruled that there was no indirect discrimination in the case of Mrs. Achbita, because a policy of neutrality does not disadvantage Muslim women who want to wear a headscarf more than any other worker. The Labour Court of Appeal was also of the opinion that the employer should not examine alternative job positions.


Gautier Busschaert
Gautier Busschaert is an attorney-at-law at Van Olmen & Wynant.
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