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    In its decision rendered on 28 February 2019, the Luxembourg Court of Appeal (Cour d’appel de Luxembourg) examined under which circumstances on-call duty performed at the workplace qualifies as actual working time.
    The issue raised was whether the time spent at night by an employee (i.e. the presence of an employee at the workplace) performing the work of a live-in carer was to be considered as ‘actual working time’.
    The Court expressly referred to EU case law and decided that the concept of actual working time is defined by two criteria, namely (i) whether the employee during such a period must be at the employer’s disposal, and (ii) the interference with the employee’s freedom to choose their activities.
    In view of the working hours provided for in the employment contract and in the absence of evidence proving that the employee would not have been at the employer’s home during her working hours, the Court found that the employee stayed at the employer’s home at night and at the employer’s request. It was irrelevant in this respect whether it was for convenience or not. It was further established that the employee could not leave during the night and return to her home and go about her personal business, so that the hours she worked at night were to be considered as actual working time.
    Given that the employee’s objections regarding her salary were justified (as the conditions of her remuneration violated statutory provisions), the Court decided that the dismissal was unfair.


Michel Molitor
Michel Molitor is the managing partner of MOLITOR Avocats à la Cour SARL in Luxembourg, www.molitorlegal.lu.

    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.

    In the context of collective redundancies the term ‘establishment’ (Betrieb) must be interpreted in compliance with the Collective Redundancies Directive 98/59/EC (the ‘Directive’). The early warning mechanism of Section 45a of the Austrian Labour Market Promotion Act (Arbeitsmarktförderungsgesetz, ‘AMFG’) is only triggered if the number of the planned redundancies reaches a relevant threshold in an establishment. In the present case the stores in question were qualified as separate establishments within the meaning of Section 45a AMFG.


Andreas Tinhofer
Andreas Tinhofer is a partner at Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich.

Markus Blatnig
Markus Blatnig is an associate at Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich.

    In a recent case, the Danish Supreme Court addressed the question of what constitutes a comparable permanent employee in relation to discrimination against fixed-term employees. The Supreme Court ruled that even though the two groups of fixed-term and permanent singers at the Royal Opera Chorus of the Royal Danish Theatre performed almost the same tasks, their positions were not comparable as the singers’ qualifications and skills were different and, for this reason, the difference in terms and conditions was not discriminatory.


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

    In the case of a ‘service provision change’ under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE), where a service is outsourced or re-tendered, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that an employee’s contract can be split so they go from working full-time for one employer to working part-time for two or more employers.


Amy Cooper
Amy Cooper is an associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 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).
Case Reports

2020/18 Prohibition of dismissal of pregnant employee (RO)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Gender discrimination
Authors Andreea Suciu and Teodora Mănăilă
AbstractAuthor's information

    Analysing the national legal framework in relation to the protection of pregnant employees and employees who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, provisions which transposed the regulations of Directive 92/85/EEC and of the conclusions in case C-103/16, Jessica Porras Guisado – v – Bankia S.A. and Others, the Constitutional Court of Romania ascertained that the dismissal prohibition of a pregnant employee is strictly restricted to reasons that have a direct connection with the employee’s pregnancy status. As for other cases where the termination of the employment contract is the result of disciplinary misconduct, unexcused absence from work, non-observance of labour discipline, or termination of employment for economic reasons or collective redundancies, the employer must submit in writing well-reasoned grounds for dismissal.


Andreea Suciu
Andreea Suciu is Managing Partner and attorney-at-law at Suciu | The Employment Law Firm, Bucharest, Romania.

Teodora Mănăilă
Teodora Mănăilă is Managing Partner and attorney-at-law at Suciu | The Employment Law Firm, Bucharest, Romania.

    Applying the ECJ’s Maschek judgment, the Zutphen subdistrict court has found that an employee was not entitled to an allowance in lieu of untaken paid annual leave at the end of the employment relationship, as she had already received special leave. Moreover, the obligation to inform the employee concerning the right to (exercise) paid annual leave did not rest upon the employer.


Lisa de Vries
Lisa de Vries is a student at Erasmus School of Law and Editorial Assistant of EELC.

Jan-Pieter Vos
Jan-Pieter Vos is Labour Law teacher and PhD candidate at Erasmus School of Law and editor of EELC.

    The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has quashed a verdict of the Court of Appeal that held that a social plan provision stipulating the capping of a redundancy allowance in view of an entitlement to early retirement pension was invalid because of age discrimination. According to the Supreme Court, a more marginal justification test should have been applied to a social plan. The Court of Appeal, moreover, did not consider all the legitimate aims it specified and should also have taken additional social plan measures as well as pension measures from the past into account. By not doing so, it was not properly examined whether the social plan constituted age discrimination.


Albertine Veldman
Albertine Veldman is a lecturer in European and Dutch labour law at Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

    The notice of collective redundancies required to be given to an employment agency pursuant to Section 17(1) of the German Protection Against Unfair Dismissal Act (Kündigungsschutzgesetz, ‘KSchG’) can only be effectively submitted if the employer has already decided to terminate the employment contract at the time of its receipt by the employment agency. Notices of termination in collective redundancy proceedings are therefore effective – subject to the fulfilment of any other notice requirements – if the proper notice is received by the competent employment agency before the employee has received the letter of termination.


Marcus Bertz
Marcus Bertz is an attorney-at-law at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.

    In a recent Supreme Court decision, it was held by a 4-1 majority that there is no reason, in principle, why the provision of ‘reasonable accommodation’ for an employee with a disability should not involve the redistribution of duties.


Orla O’Leary
Orla O’Leary is an attorney-at-law at Mason Hayes & Curran, Dublin.
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