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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.
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.

    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.

    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.

    The dismissal of an employee for gross misconduct was unfair because the investigating officer failed to share significant new information with the manager conducting the disciplinary hearing who decided to dismiss, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled.


Ludivine Gegaden
Ludivine Gegaden is an Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.
Case Reports

2020/22 Works council’s right to inspect remuneration lists (GE)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Information and Consultation, Privacy
Authors Robert Pacholski
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, “BAG”) has held that a works council must be provided with the documents necessary for carrying out its duties at any time on request. A works committee or another committee of the works council formed in accordance with the provisions of the Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, “BetrVG”) is entitled to inspect the lists of gross wages. This right to inspect is not limited to anonymized gross pay lists. Data protection considerations do not dictate that the right is limited to anonymized gross payrolls. The processing of personal data associated with the right of inspection is permitted under the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and the German Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz, “BDSG”).


Robert Pacholski
Robert Pacholski is an attorney-at-law at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.

    The Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court in a decision of 24 June 2019 has ruled that the mere comparison between the job descriptions of employees is not sufficient basis for establishing whether the employees are carrying out the same work or work of equal value and the courts should also take into consideration the practical aspects of the work, the specific working conditions and the tasks actually carried out.


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

    The Brussels Labour Court of Appeal, in a judgment of 10 September 2019, has ruled that the notion of ‘maternity’ contained in the Belgian Gender Act does not go as far as protecting mothers against discrimination with regards to childcare, since this would confirm a patriarchal role pattern. However, a recent legislative change introducing ‘paternity’ as a protected ground might cast doubt on the relevance of this ruling for the future.


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

    Many national decisions in Germany in the past had to deal with employers’ requirements regarding religious symbols in the workplace. Also, in 2017, the ECJ has dealt with two matters of such. Whilst the ECJ strictly refers to the principles of entrepreneurial freedom, the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, the ‘BAG’) tends to give priority to religious freedom. Last year, the BAG appealed to the ECJ for final clarification, in particular regarding the relationship between the basic rights of entrepreneurs and the constitutional right to religious freedom, by way of a preliminary ruling procedure with its decision dated 30 January 2019.


Caroline Dressel
Caroline Dressel is an attorney-at-law at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbh

    On 3 October 2019, in case C-274/18 (Schuch-Ghannadan), the ECJ held that a national regulation, which provides for different maximum total durations of successive fixed-term employment contracts for part-time workers on the one hand and full-time workers on the other, could result in a discrimination of part-time workers and an indirect discrimination of women.


Ines Kager
Mag. Ines Kager is teaching and research assistant at WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
Case Reports

2020/8 Right of temporary workers to the same pay for the same work (LT)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Temporary agency work, Other forms of discrimination
Authors Vida Petrylaitė
AbstractAuthor's information

    On 20 June 2019, Vilnius Regional Court in Lithuania (instance of appeal) delivered a decision in a case where the applicants claimed that a temporary employment agency, UAB Manpower Lit (the ‘Agency’), which recruited temporary workers (‘claimants’) for the European Institute for Gender Equality (‘EIGE’), paid them lower salaries than permanent staff. It was ruled that the Agency had discriminated against these workers by paying them lower salaries than they would have received if they had been recruited directly by EIGE. The Court also ordered the payment of pay arrears for a certain period to the temporary staff.


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

    Failure to reinstate an employee upon her return from parental leave in her initial position or a similar position with equivalent remuneration can constitute indirect gender discrimination.


Claire Toumieux

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

    The European Commission recently conducted a public consultation on the measures that may be taken to ensure the full application of the principle of equal pay between women and men. Its evaluation report is expected before the end of this year. The new Swiss legislation on monitoring and disclosure of the gender pay gap may be inspiration for future EU initiatives in this area.


Sara Rousselle-Ruffieux
Sara Rousselle-Ruffieux is an attorney-at-law at Lenz & Staehelin, Geneva, Switzerland.
Case Reports

2019/43 Dismissal after childbirth-related leave (DK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2019
Keywords Gender discrimination
Authors Christian K. Clasen
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Danish Western High Court has ruled that the dismissal of an employee shortly after returning from childbirth-related leave did not constitute discrimination within the meaning of the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women.


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

    Relying on the prohibition of age discrimination stemming from Directive 2000/78, the Labour Tribunal of Leuven refused to apply a Collective Labour Agreement establishing the minimum monthly salary for employees depending on their work experience even if not relevant and the Royal Decree enforcing it. The jurisdiction grounded its decision on the fact that this gave a strong advantage to older employees without objective justification.


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

    The Polish Supreme Court has held that a criterion of discrimination may also be a relationship of a social or familial nature that exists in the workplace and whose existence or absence on the part of the employee results in different treatment by the employer.


Marcin Wujczyk
Marcin Wujczyk is an attorney at law at Wardyński & Partners, Poland (https://www.wardynski.com.pl).

    In two appeal cases considered jointly, the Court of Appeal (CA) has ruled that it is not direct or indirect sex discrimination, nor a breach of equal pay rights, to provide enhanced pay for maternity leave and statutory pay only for shared parental leave (SPL).


Richard Lister
Richard Lister is a Managing Practice Development Lawyer at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    The Higher Administrative Court of Münster (Oberverwaltungsgericht, the ‘OVG’) has held that a minimum body height of 163 cm for applicants to the police service, irrespective of gender, is lawful. At least, this shall apply if the determination of a minimum body height standard is a suitability criterion for access to the police service. Minimum standards solely serve the purpose of ensuring fitness for service and result from a comprehensive investigation. The investigation in this case established that suitability for the police service can only be guaranteed from a height of 163 cm upwards.


Paul Schreiner
Paul Schreiner is a partner at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.

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