Labour Law : Ecj: German Rules Violate Principle of Non-Discrimination

European Social Policy, February 12, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Labour Law : Ecj: German Rules Violate Principle of Non-Discrimination


The EU Court of Justice handed down a ruling, on 19 January, that reiterates the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age at the workplace. The role of the national court in enforcing EU law is also stressed by the court in Case C-555/07.

The ECJ held that German rules on redundancies run counter to EU law. Under German law, periods of employment completed before the employee has reached the age of 25 are not taken into account for calculating notice periods in case of dismissal.

This principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age was first recognised in the Mangold judgement, in November 2005, and subsequently found expression in Directive 2000/78 on equal treatment in employment and occupation. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty has the same legal value as the treaties, also bans all discrimination based on age. The German employment law is therefore in breach of EU law since the notice periods for dismissal increase in Germany according to the length of employment but do not take account of employment periods before the worker reached the age of 25. German labour law therefore provides less favourable treatment to employees who entered the employer's service before the age of 25. The Court of Justice rejects this difference of treatment.

THE CASE

The judgement results from the questions submitted to the Court of Justice by the higher labour court in Dusseldorf on the compatibility of the German rule with EU law and the consequences of any incompatibility.

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