Discrimination

THE END OF SPECIAL RIGHTS FOR THE CHURCH?

1. The problem Equal treatment is not only becoming more and more important since #metoo a few years ago, but has influenced the European Union for nearly 20 years. On June 2000 the Council Directive 2000/43/ implemented the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin into European Law. Since then more and more European and German Laws were brought into force to promote equal treatment between the sexes, ethnicities, religions, …

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Job advertisements asking for church membership tend to be discriminatory

In a judgment dated 25 October 2018 the Federal Labour Court (docket number 8 AZR 501/14) ruled that religious employers are no longer allowed to ask all applicants for membership of a Christian church in job advertisements. Unequal treatment on grounds of religion is only permissible if, according to the nature of the activities or the circumstances of their exercise, religion constitutes a substantial, legitimate and justified work-related requirement in light of the ethos of …

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Occupational Pensions: Federal Labour Court confirmed its ruling with respect to so-called “age difference clauses” in pension arrangements

By judgment of 11 December 2018 (docket number: 3 400/17) the Federal Labour Court has ruled that a so-called “age difference clause” (Altersabstandsklausel) providing that a survivor’s benefit is reduced if the age difference between the spouses is more than 10 years is admissible and is not to be considered as unjustified discrimination on grounds of age. The plaintiff was born in 1945. Her husband was born in 1930 and died in 2014. The spouses …

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Good news for parents? – Interpretation of social plan severance provisions

If, in a social compensation plan, the severance payment calculation is based solely on the gross monthly basic salary of a single reference month, the decisive salary of employees who work part-time in that month during their parental leave, is the gross monthly basic salary which they would have been entitled to under their employment contract if they had not been on parental leave (i.e. if they had not worked part time. This is what …

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Addressing applicants “who are about to graduate”, asking for “very good German and English language skills” as well as a description of being a “young, dynamic company” is in general non-discriminatory

On 23 November 2017 the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) ruled in two parallel proceedings, each with the same plaintiff, on compensation claims for an alleged infringement of the principle of non-discrimination under the General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG) on the basis of two job advertisements. The first position required a completed degree, or that the applicant was about to graduate, as well as very good German and English language skills (docket number …

Addressing applicants “who are about to graduate”, asking for “very good German and English language skills” as well as a description of being a “young, dynamic company” is in general non-discriminatory Read More »

Limitation of the extension of an employment relationship beyond the statutory age limit is permissible

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the limitation of the extension of an employment relationship beyond the statutory age limit is permissible and does not constitutes an abuse of fixed-term employment contracts. The case: A teacher in Bremen had reached the statutory retirement age and, according to the applicable collective bargaining agreement, the employment relationship with the city of Bremen would have ended with the achievement of the statutory retirement age. However, the …

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Occupational Pensions: Legitimacy of so-called “age difference clauses” in pension arrangements

By judgment of 20.02.2018 (3 AZR 43/17) the Federal Labour Court has ruled that a so-called “age difference clause” (Altersabstandsklausel) providing that spouses receive a survivor’s benefit only if they are no more than 15 years younger than the deceased former employee is admissible.   The plaintiff was born in 1968. She married her husband, who was born in 1950 and died in 2011, in 1995. The plaintiff’s deceased husband was granted a survivor’s pension …

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Commencement of the „two months period“ for asserting claims for damages due to a violation of the General Act on Equal Treatment

On 29 June 2017 the Federal Labour Court ruled that a “rejection of an application” by a company requires an explicit or implied statement from the company that can be interpreted by the applicant in the way that his application was not successful. Only if such statement is received the two months period for asserting claims for damages due to a violation of the General Act on Equal Treatment commences (docket number 8 AZR 402/15). …

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Size (doesn’t) matter – Minimum size for police officers discriminates women

The ECJ ruled in a judgment on 18 October that a uniform minimum size as a requirement for men and women to get a job is inadmissible (docket number C-409/16). A Greek court had asked the ECJ whether “a height (in the case of men and women) of at least 1.70m”, is compatible with Directive 76/207/EEC which prohibits any indirect discrimination on grounds of sex as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and …

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Age 60 as a legitimate reason to terminate a service relationship with a managing director

The attainment of age 60 can be agreed as an age limit in a service agreement allowing for the termination of the contract. This was decided by the Hamm Higher Regional Court in a judgment dated 19 June 2017, docket number 8 U 18/17. Such an age limit does not violate the General Equal Treatment Act, at least as long as the managing director is entitled to a pension payment thereafter. The plaintiff, born in …

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Discriminatory job advertisement – No claim for damages if applicant was not “seriously” applying for the job

If an applicant applies for a job solely to bring a claim then he will have no claim for damages, even if the job advertisement violates the General Act on Equal Treatment (judgement of the Munich labour court dated 24 November 2016, docket number 173 C 8860/16). A company advertised a voluntary job at a marketing agency in a local newspaper. The role required the employee to have frequent conversations with customers over the phone. …

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New to age limits: What is allowed, what is not allowed?

Age limits remain a permanent issue in employment law in Europe. They come into play in different ways: On the one hand, as a maximum age limit for the commencement of a particular career;  on the other hand – even more relevant – as an age limit at which the employment relationship automatically terminates. A third similar case  is the provision of benefits (for example additional leave days) from or to a certain age. All …

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Change of jurisdiction of the Federal Labour Court of Germany: Consequence of unauthorized instructions

Of central importance in German labour law is the right of the employer to issue instructions to employees with regard to the content, location and time of the work (sec 106 of the German Trade Regulation Act “Gewerbeordnung”). If admissible instructions are given, the employee is obliged to follow them. If he does not follow them,  this is a breach of duty which, in individual cases, may  lead to termination. The situation is problematic, however, …

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New Act on Remuneration Transparency

Following up our blog post from December 19, 2016 where we reported about a legislative proposal to promote equal pay between women and men, the Remuneration Transparency Act has now entered into force. Arguing that women still earn 7 % less than men even if statistics account for women frequently working part-time, less often climbing up the career ladder and rather working in social professions with lower salaries, the German Government felt that at least …

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Damages for harassment at the workplace

Unfair treatment at the workplace only qualifies as harassment if it based on continuing hostile and discriminatory behavior that follows a purpose not protected by the legal system and infringes on an individual’s personality or similar rights (judgment by the Higher Labour Court (Landesarbeitsgericht, LAG) Rheinland-Pfalz, 30 November 2015, docket no. 3 Sa 371/15). In this case, the employee sued for damages on the grounds of harassment at the workplace. He claimed that he was …

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