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    The Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) considers the Equality Act – and to some extent the Equal Treatment Directive – and gives guidance about harassment and victimisation claims as well as on principals’ liability for acts of their agents. In a decision that declines to expand the scope of harassment claims, the EAT has decided, in particular, that it is not enough for claimants alleging harassment to simply assert that they are disabled, without meeting the definition of disability or falling into another protected situation.


Anna Sella
Anna Sella is a Senior Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.
Case Reports

2017/23 Suspension of a recovery plan is not a transfer-triggering event (BU)

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 2 2017
Trefwoorden Transfer of undertaking, Employees who transfer/refuse to transfer
Auteurs Kalina Tchakarova
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The Bulgarian Supreme Court ruled to the effect that the Bulgarian Labour Code (‘BLC’) provides for the automatic transfer of employees only in the circumstances set out in the BLC. The employment protection given by the BLC cannot either be broadened or narrowed. The suspension of a recovery plan which leads to the restoration of insolvency proceedings (and therefore the return of the company from the transferee that had been executing the failed recovery plan back into the hands of the transferor) did not lead to the automatic transfer of employment.


Kalina Tchakarova
Kalina Tchakarova is a partner at Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov and Velichkov, Sofia, www.dgkv.com.

    Following consultations with its employees in accordance with the Finnish Codetermination Act (334/2007), a company informed the employees that it would close down its current office premises and move its operations, including all of its employees, to another location. An employee, whose employment contract expressly stipulated the location of the old office as the fixed place of work, refused to transfer and did not arrive at the new place of work after the transfer. The company considered the employee’s absence unjustified and terminated her employment with immediate effect. The Supreme Court held that an employer can, as an alternative to termination of employment, unilaterally amend material terms of employment provided it notifies the employees sufficiently clearly of the terms being amended, the time when the new terms would come into effect, the grounds for termination, and the consequences of not accepting the amendments.


Kaj Swanljung
Kaj Swanljung and Janne Nurminen are respectively a Senior Counsel and a Senior Associate with Roschier in Helsinki, www.roschier.com.

Janne Nurminen

    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)

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 1 2017
Trefwoorden Age discrimination
Auteurs Peter C. Schöffmann en Andreas Tinhofer
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    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.

    A Spanish Supreme Court decision issued on 17 October 2016 (no. 848/2016) declares employee terminations void because the employer failed to respect the proper collective redundancy procedures based on the thresholds provided by EU Directive 98/59. The thresholds in the Directive refer to the number of employees at the establishment, whereas thresholds under Spanish law refer to the whole company. In implementing the Directive, Spanish law had aimed at being more favourable to employees, but this did not happen on the facts of this case.


Sonia Cortés
Sonia Cortés is a partner with Abdón Pedrajas & Molero, www.abdonpedrajas.com.
Case Reports

2017/10 Uber drivers found to be workers (UK)

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 1 2017
Trefwoorden Employment Tribunal
Auteurs Bethan Carney
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In a much publicised case, Uber drivers have won a first instance employment tribunal finding that they are ‘workers’ and not self-employed contractors. This decision means that they are entitled to basic protections, such as the national minimum wage, paid holiday (under the Working Time Directive) and protection against detriment for ‘blowing the whistle’ on wrong doing. The decision could have substantial financial consequences for Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers in the UK but Uber has already confirmed that it will appeal the decision, so we are unlikely to have a final determination on this question for some time.


Bethan Carney
Bethan Carney is a lawyer at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.

    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.

    The Curia (Hungarian Supreme Court) stated in its ruling that length of service is not a protected characteristic under discrimination law. Length of employment cannot be considered as a core feature of the individual based on which he or she would belong to a specific group, as it is a result of his or her own actions. It therefore cannot be treated as a ‘miscellaneous’ ground for the purposes of the Hungarian Equal Treatment Act. Further, length of service cannot be linked to age discrimination. The length of service of an employee is not directly connected to age, therefore treatment of an employee based on length of service with a specific organisation cannot be considered age discriminatory.
    A claim based on discrimination must be supported by a comparator. Employees with different educational backgrounds and jobs with different the educational requirements, are not comparable for the purposes of equal treatment law.


Gabriella Ormai
Gabriella Ormai is the managing partner of the Budapest office of CMS Cameron McKenna LLP (www.cms-cmck.com).
Case Reports

2017/9 The influence of the threat of terrorism on the right to strike (NL)

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 1 2017
Trefwoorden Industrial action, Strike
Auteurs Ruben Houweling en Amber Zwanenburg
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The Dutch Cantonal judge prohibited a strike because the safety of passengers could not be guaranteed. At the hearing, which took place a few days after the Berlin Christmas market attacks, weight was given to the threat of terrorism. Nor is this the first time the threat of terrorism has been explicitly referred to by a Dutch court in a case concerning the right to strike.


Ruben Houweling
Ruben Houweling and Amber Zwanenburg are respectively a professor and a lecturer of Labour Law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Amber Zwanenburg

    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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