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    In 2014, the ECJ was presented with a preliminary reference from the District Court in Kolding on the matter of whether EU law provides protection against discrimination on grounds of obesity with regard to employment and occupation. Following the ECJ’s ruling, first the District Court and later the High Court found that an employee’s obesity as such did not constitute a disability within the meaning of Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation since his obesity had not constituted a limitation or inconvenience in the performance of his job.


Christian K. Clasen
Christian K. Clasen is a partner at Norrbom Vinding.

    On 16 December 2020, the Supreme Court of Lithuania (Cassation Court) delivered a ruling in a case where an employee claimed that the employer, JSC ‘Lithuanian Railways’, did not apply the regulations of the company’s employer-level collective agreement and did not pay a special bonus – an anniversary benefit (i.e. a benefit paid to employees on reaching a certain age) – because the employee was not a member of the trade union which had signed the collective agreement. According to the employee, she was discriminated against because of her membership of another trade union, i.e membership of the ‘wrong’ trade union.
    The Supreme Court held that combatting discrimination under certain grounds falls within the competence and scope of EU law, but that discrimination on the grounds of trade union membership is not distinguished as a form of discrimination. Also, the Court ruled that in this case (contrary to what the employee claimed in her cassation appeal) Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is not applicable because it regulates the prohibition of discrimination on other (sex) grounds. Moreover, the Court found that there was no legal basis for relying on the relevant case law of the ECJ which provides clarification on other forms of discrimination, but not on discrimination based on trade union membership.


Vida Petrylaitė
Vida Petrylaitė is an associate professor at Vilnius university.

    According to German law, leave entitlements of an employee shall in principle expire at the end of the calendar year or a permissible carryover period. However, based on the case law of the ECJ, this shall only apply if the employer has previously enabled and summoned the employee to take leave and the employee has nevertheless not taken it. But what happens if an employee is incapacitated for work for a longer period of time and therefore is unable to take his or her annual leave? Does the employer also have to inform this employee about their leave entitlement? The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, ‘BAG’) recently had to deal with this question in two cases and now the ECJ will have to address this matter. This is because the BAG has asked the ECJ to decide whether and when an employee’s entitlement to paid leave can expire if an employee loses their ability to work during the course of the leave year, while the employee could have taken at least part of the annual leave before becoming incapacitated for work, but the employee was not properly informed by the employer about their leave entitlement.


Katharina Gorontzi
Katharina Gorontzi is an attorney-at-law at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.

Nina Stephan
Nina Stephan is an attorney-at-law at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.

Jule Rosauer
Jule Rosauer is a legal trainee at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.

    The Vaslui Tribunal has recently annulled an individual dismissal decision issued during the state of alert in Romania due to formalities which had not been observed by the employer. While the judge invested with determining the matter limited their analysis to the elements contained in the individual dismissal decision, the judicial assistant ascertained, within a competing opinion, that the dismissal decision should have been annulled for other reasons, namely for the fact that, in reality, the employer had implemented a collective redundancy process without observing the procedure and employees’ rights in the event of such dismissal. Relying on the provisions of Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies, the judicial assistant has made an exhaustive analysis of the conditions required for the existence of a collective dismissal.
    While the competing opinion does not have the same effect as a court ruling, it is part of the judicial procedure and, from this perspective, the independence and impartiality of all the members of the court and their obedience solely to the law is maintained.


Andreea Suciu
Andreea Suciu is Managing Partner of Suciu I The Employment Law Firm.

Andreea Serban
Andreea Serban is an attorney-at-law at Suciu I The Employment Law Firm.
Case Reports

2021/4 Budget considerations can justify indirect discrimination (UK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Discrimination General, Age Discrimination
Authors Carolyn Soakell
AbstractAuthor's information

    If an employer has a policy which is indirectly discriminatory and the employer’s aim is no more than saving money, the Court of Appeal (CA) has ruled that this cannot justify the discrimination. However, needing to balance the books can potentially be a valid justification for indirect discrimination.


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

2021/9 AGET Iraklis: another belated victory for the employer (GR)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Information & Consultation, Collective Redundancies
Authors Effie Mitsopoulou
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Supreme Court of Greece has clarified that the validity of terminations is not affected by the lack of consultation with the employees’ representatives, as per Directive 2002/14/EC on a general framework for informing and consulting employees. In case of non-compliance with such obligation, alternative administrative or judicial measures can be provided by the Member States. It further reiterated that the expediency and necessity of the company’s business decision to suddenly interrupt its plant operation cannot be subject to judicial control.


Effie Mitsopoulou
Effie Mitsopoulou is an attorney-at-law at Effie Mitsopoulou Law Office.
Case Reports

2021/2 Warning strike timing (HU)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Collective Agreements, Unions, Other Fundamental Rights
Authors Zsófia Oláh and Ildikó Rácz
AbstractAuthor's information

    This case involved an employer who claimed that a trade union organised an unlawful warning strike. The Curia (the highest judicial authority in Hungary) found that the trade union violated its obligation to cooperate with the employer according to Act No. 7 of 1989 on Strikes. The Curia and also the Regional Courts made some clear points on the question of the timing of a warning strike. The employer must be notified of a planned strike in sufficient time, which requirement also applies in the case of warning strikes. The time can be considered as sufficient if the employer is able to fulfil its rights to protect its property, prevent damage resulting from the strike, to carry out its duties to protect life and property, and to organise work accordingly. Failing this obligation, the warning strike is unlawful. The notice shall state the date and time that such action will commence.


Zsófia Oláh
Zsófia Oláh is a Partner at OPL Law Firm.

Ildikó Rácz
Ildikó Rácz is a Junior Associate at OPL Law Firm.

    The UK failed properly to implement EU health and safety law by restricting protection from detriment on health and safety grounds to ‘employees’, the High Court (HC) ruled in a recent case. Such protection should be extended to the broader category of ‘workers’. Importantly, this ruling potentially increases employers’ exposure to Covid-19-related health and safety claims.


Shalina Crossley
Shalina Crossley is Partner at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    Following ECJ case law, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia has ruled that a worker is entitled to compensation for unused annual leave in the event that the termination of employment has occurred 15 months after the end of the transfer period (i.e. the period for the transfer of the right to use annual leave) provided for in national legislation. The relevant transposition period is therefore three months longer than the transposition period set out in the Slovenian law.


Petra Smolnikar
Petra Smolnikar is the founder and manager at PETRA SMOLNIKAR LAW.

Tjaša Marinček
Tjaša Marinček is a student assistant at PETRA SMOLNIKAR LAW.

    An adjudication officer of the Irish Workplace Relations Commission has ruled that an upper age limit for entrance to An Garda Síochána (the national police force) was discriminatory on the grounds of age.


Orla O’Leary
Orla O’Learny is a Senior Associate at Mason, Hayes & Curran.

    The Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that an employee’s right to a guaranteed payment from the Guaranteed Receivables Fund arises only after a court decision for opening of bankruptcy proceedings has been issued and the decision has been published in the Commercial Register with the Registry Agency of the Republic of Bulgaria. Therefore, if this condition is not met, the employee is not entitled to such payment even if the employer is de facto insolvent.


Kalina Tchakarova
Kalina Tchakarova is a partner at Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov and Velichkov.


Claire Toumieux
Claire Toumieux and Susan Ekrami is partner at Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, www.allenovery.com.

Susan Ekrami
Susan Ekrami is a senior associate with Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, www.allenovery.com.


Andreea Suciu
Andreea Suciu is Managing Partner at Suciu | The Employment Law Firm in Bucharest, Romania.

Teodora Manaila
Teodora Manaila is a Senior Associate at Suciu | The Employment Law Firm in Bucharest, Romania.

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that the provision under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) which renders changes to employees’ terms and conditions void if they are made because of the transfer applies to changes that are advantageous as well as detrimental to employees. On the facts of the case, this meant that owner-directors who had made significant improvements to their own employment terms before a TUPE transfer could not enforce these against the transferee employer.


Lisa Dafydd
Lisa Dafydd is an associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    The Danish Supreme Court recently held that an employer had discharged the reversed burden of proof in a case concerning a physiotherapist who was dismissed shortly after her return from maternity leave.


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

    In a summary proceeding, the Court of Rotterdam has held that it is not clear whether the Non-Seafarers Work Clause, prohibiting lashing work on board of container ships being carried out by the crew, does indeed contribute to better employment and/or working conditions of seafarers. As a result of which the Clause – at this time – cannot be held to be outside the scope of competition law and the claim for compliance with the provision has been rejected. In the media, unions have stated that they will continue to enforce compliance with the Non-Seafarers Work Clause. It remains to be seen whether a court in main proceedings will reach a similar verdict.


Erick Hagendoorn
Erick Hagendoorn is an attorney-at-law at HerikVerhulst N.V., Rotterdam.

    The Austrian Supreme Court has asked preliminary questions about the lawfulness of Section 10(2) of the Austrian Law on Annual Leave which stipulates that an employee is not entitled to an allowance in lieu of annual leave in respect to the current (last) working year if they terminate the employment relationship prematurely without good cause.


Maria Schedle
Maria Schedle is a partner at ENGELBRECHT Rechtsanwalts GmbH.

    On 13 December 2019 the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Court held that a national provision that renders a father’s entitlement to parental benefits during a shared period of leave dependent on the mother’s situation, but not vice versa, fell outside the scope of Directive 2006/54/EC (the Equal Treatment Directive) since it did not concern “employment and working conditions” within the meaning of Article 14(1)(c) of that Directive. The action brought by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) was thus dismissed. The Court consequently did not consider whether the Norwegian rules amounted to unlawful discrimination under the Directive. Furthermore, no assessment was made as to the potential breach with the general principle of equality of gender under EEA law, as this had not been pleaded by ESA.


Jonas Thorsdalen Wik
Jonas Thorsdalen Wik is an attorneys-at-law at Hjort Law Firm (Oslo, Norway).

Dag Sørlie Lund
Dag Sørlie Lund is an attorneys-at-law at Hjort Law Firm (Oslo, Norway).

    This case involved an employee who claimed that he was unfairly dismissed for using a trade union to bring a grievance over measures his employer had taken on account of the coronavirus pandemic. The Employment Tribunal (ET) found that he was likely to be able to show at the full hearing of the case that this was an automatically unfair dismissal on grounds of his trade union membership or activities. It awarded the remedy of ‘interim relief’, ordering the employer immediately to reinstate him pending the full trial of the matter. The ET’s decision might signal a potential rise in claims for interim relief in future cases.


David Hopper
David Hopper is a Managing Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    The Greek Supreme Court, in a case about the transfer of a business and the obligation on the transferee to continue employing the transferred employees, underlined the importance of a thorough and genuine control on all factors to be taken into consideration in order to conclude on the existence of a transfer of undertaking or not: the business transferred must retain an autonomous economic identity, in the sense that the functional link between the different factors transferred is retained, thus allowing the new entity to use them in order to exercise an economic activity identical or similar to the previous one.


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