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    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.
Case Reports

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

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 1 2021
Trefwoorden Discrimination General, Age Discrimination
Auteurs Carolyn Soakell
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    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)

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 1 2021
Trefwoorden Information & Consultation, Collective Redundancies
Auteurs Effie Mitsopoulou
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    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)

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 1 2021
Trefwoorden Collective Agreements, Unions, Other Fundamental Rights
Auteurs Zsófia Oláh en Ildikó Rácz
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    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.

    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.


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.

    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.

    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 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 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.

    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.

    The Belgian Court of Cassation (Supreme Court), in a decision of 20 January 2020, has ruled that the prohibition for an employer to terminate the employment relationship of a worker for reasons related to a complaint for acts of violence and/or moral and/or sexual harassment at work does not, however, preclude the dismissal from being justified by motives inferred from the facts set out in the complaint.


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

    The Federal Labour Court of Germany (Bundesarbeitsgericht, ‘BAG’) has decided that a social plan that distinguished between employees who were born in 1960 or later and employees who were born before 1960 for the calculation of severance payment did not constitute unjustified age discrimination. However, a regulation in a social plan which referred to the “earliest possible” entitlement to a statutory pension when calculating the severance payment constituted unjustified indirect discrimination against disabled persons.


Iness Gutt
Ines Gutt is an attorney-at-law at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.
Case Reports

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

Tijdschrift European Employment Law Cases, Aflevering 2 2020
Trefwoorden Information and Consultation, Privacy
Auteurs Robert Pacholski
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    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 Danish Western High Court recently found that an employee who had entered into a severance agreement – and who was represented by her professional organisation during this process – was barred from claiming compensation under the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act, implementing Directive 2000/78.


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

    The Federal Labour Court of Germany (Bundesarbeitsgericht, ‘BAG’) had to decide on a case in which an employee argued that his contract was not terminated by a provision that restricted the mutual duties to a certain time period for the yearly season within his contract and that the employer had to employ him during the off season. However, his lawsuit was unsuccessful as the Court found that, even though he did have an indefinite contract, the employer was not obliged to employ and pay him during the off season due to the valid provision of fixed-term employment for the time from April to October during the time of the season.


Othmar K. Traber
Othmar K. Traber is a partner at Ahlers & Vogel Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB in Bremen, www.ahlers-vogel.com.
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