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Journal European Employment Law Cases x Year 2017 x

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has adopted a new approach to the burden of proof in discrimination cases. Up to now, the courts have held that the claimant must, in the first instance, prove sufficient facts from which (in the absence of any other explanation) an inference of discrimination can be drawn. Once the claimant has established these facts, the burden of proof shifts to the respondent to show that he or she did not breach the provisions of the Act. The EAT has now said that courts should consider all of the evidence (both the claimant’s and the respondent’s) when making its finding of facts, in order to determine whether or not a prima facie case of discrimination has been made out. It is then open to the respondent to demonstrate that there was no discrimination. This is an important development in how the burden of proof is dealt with in discrimination cases. It clarifies that it is not only the claimant’s evidence which will be scrutinised in determining whether the burden of proof has shifted, but also the respondent’s evidence (or lack thereof).


Hannah Price
Hannah Price is a Legal Director at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a man seeking to establish that, if he died, his husband should be entitled to the same survivor’s pension as a female spouse would receive in the same circumstances. The Court unanimously held that an exemption in the Equality Act 2010 allowing employers to exclude same-sex partners from pension benefits accruing before December 2005, was incompatible with EU law and should be disapplied.


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

    Between 2008 and 2016, around 7000 Asda employees working in retail stores (who were largely women) issued equal pay claims in the Manchester Employment Tribunal (‘ET’). The Claimants argued that retail store workers carry out work of ‘equal value’ to the predominantly male workforce working in the distribution centres, meaning they were appropriate comparators for the purposes of an equal pay claim. The ET upheld their claim, even though the stores and distribution centres were run by different departments and the rates of pay set by a different method. Asda appealed to the EAT, which dismissed all grounds of appeal and upheld the ET’s decision, allowing the UK’s largest private-sector group equal pay claim to proceed.


Katie Johnston
Katie Johnston is a Senior Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.
Case Reports

2017/30 Discrimination of workers’ representatives – burden of proof (LI)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2017
Keywords Discrimination (other), Discrimination of workers’ representatives
Authors Vida Petrylaite
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Lithuanian Supreme Court has found discrimination against an employee based on his trade union activities and ruled that there was no need for the burden of proof to shift to the employer.


Vida Petrylaite
Vida Petrylaite is a partner with CONFIDENCE Law Office, Vilnus (www.confidence.lt).

    It was direct sex discrimination for a male employee who wished to take shared parental leave (SPL) to be entitled only to the minimum statutory pay where a female employee would have been entitled to full salary during an equivalent period of maternity leave, according to a first-instance decision from the Employment Tribunal (ET).


Anna Bond
Anna Bond is an Associate Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP.
Case Reports

2017/27 Supreme Court clarifies indirect discrimination test (UK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2017
Keywords General discrimination, Indirect discrimination
Authors Soyoung Lee
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Supreme Court has given a clear explanation of how the test for indirect discrimination works, holding that it is not necessary to know why a particular group is disadvantaged by an employer’s policy in order to show indirect discrimination. This decision is not particularly helpful for employers as it makes it easier for individuals to make an indirect discrimination claim. However, the Supreme Court emphasised that it is always open to an employer to show that indirect discrimination is justified.


Soyoung Lee
Soyoung Lee is an Associate Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP (www.lewissilkin.com).
ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 13 July 2017, case C-354/16 (Kleinsteuber), Part-time work and sex discrimination

Ute Kleinsteuber – v – Mars GmbH, German case

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2017
Keywords Part-time work, Gender discrimination
Abstract

    Distinctions made for part-time workers in calculating occupational pension can be acceptable, as long as the calculations are based on legitimate objectives in accordance with law.

Case Reports

2017/31 Lawful positive discrimination in favour of women (FR)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2017
Keywords Discrimination (other), Positive discrimination
Authors Claire Toumieux and Susan Ekrami
AbstractAuthor's information

    Company agreement provisions granting a half-day of leave to female employees on International Women’s Day constitute lawful positive discrimination in favour of women.


Claire Toumieux
Claire Toumieux is a partner with 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).

    A claim for compensation for discrimination was not excluded simply because the applicant did not have the ‘objective qualifications’ necessary for the job. According to the German General Equal Treatment Act (the ‘Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz’, or ‘AGG’), what is necessary for a compensation claim is a ‘comparable situation’. According to the latest decision of the German Federal Labour Court (the ‘Bundesarbeitsgericht’, or ‘BAG’) this can occur even if the applicant does not fulfill the general requirements to do the job.


Paul Schreiner
Paul Schreiner and Nina Stephan are respectively partner and associate with Luther Rechtsanwaltgesellschaft MbH, www.luther-lawfirm.com.

Nina Stephan
Paul Schreiner and Nina Stephan are respectively partner and associate with Luther Rechtsanwaltgesellschaft MbH, www.luther-lawfirm.com.
Case Reports

2017/1 Early retirement pension cannot justify age discrimination (AU)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2017
Keywords Age discrimination
Authors Peter C. Schöffmann and Andreas Tinhofer
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Austrian Supreme Court has held that the selection of employees for redundancy because of their entitlement to an early retirement pension constitutes unfair dismissal on grounds of direct age discrimination. Although it was accepted that individual employers (here the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) can pursue a legitimate aim within the meaning of Article 6(1) of Directive 2000/78/EC, the means to achieve that aim were not considered appropriate and necessary. The Court stressed that a balance must be struck between the interests of older and younger employees, taking into account that it is generally easier for younger employees to find a new job. In the case at hand, however, the employer had not managed to show that its redundancy selection programme met that requirement.


Peter C. Schöffmann
Peter C. Schöffmann and Andreas Tinhofer are respectively an associate and partner at MOSATI Rechtsanwälte, www.mosati.at.

Andreas Tinhofer
Peter C. Schöffmann and Andreas Tinhofer are respectively an associate and partner at MOSATI Rechtsanwälte, www.mosati.at.

    In a precedent-setting case, the Danish Supreme Court recently ruled that a pregnant employee under notice, who claimed discrimination because she had not been reassigned to a vacant position that arose during the notice period, was not discriminated against.


Mariann Norrbom
Mariann Norrbom is a lawyer at Norrbom Vinding in Copenhagen, www.norrbomvinding.com.

    For the first time, a Belgian court has relied on the Kaltoft case, which holds that obesity may constitute a disability. That case gives rise to protection against discrimination, according to the Labour Tribunal of Liège, even if it is falsely presumed. This is the case where an employer sends an email to an applicant stating that the applicant cannot be hired because his or her obesity is a disability in relation to the job.


Gautier Busschaert
Gautier Busschaert is an attorney at Van Olmen & Wynant in Brussels, www.vow.be.

    The dismissal of a pregnant employee upon her employer’s business takeover was deemed to be unlawful discrimination.


Christiana Michael
Christiana Michael is a lawyer at George Z Georgiou & Associates LLC, www.georgezgeorgiou.com.
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