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Employment security - 29.06.2020 klo 09.15

Employee was entitled to end employment for reasons for which the employer was responsible

The tyre company had repeatedly ordered the employee to take sick leave and working capacity tests. Photo: Gettyimages

The Court of Appeal found that an employee was entitled to terminate his employment relationship due to circumstances for which the employer is responsible because the company had subjected the employee to discrimination within the meaning of the Non-discrimination Act.

A tyre company was ordered to pay damages for unjustified termination of employment. The total amount of damages was 25,220.20 euros. The case was first tried in the District Court and afterwards in the Court of Appeal.

The tyre company had informed the employee of changes in work duties, place of work and other terms and conditions of employment. The employee was not told the reason for these changes.

In court the employer said the reason for the changes was that the employee had sold products contrary to instructions, harassed or disturbed other employees and stakeholders and failed to comply with rules on working hours.

The employee had been considered a difficult person because he had begun to enquire via the trade union about his right to unpaid wages. The employee had also contacted the Regional State Administrative Agency on account of perceived harassment and improper treatment. The tyre company had also let it be known that the employee was not considered a suitable candidate in shop steward and occupational safety and health representative elections in summer 2015.

Employee was wrongly required to take working capacity tests 

The company had repeatedly ordered the employee to take sick leave and working capacity tests. According to the Court of Appeal there was no medical or occupational safety reason for these requirements as the company had claimed. The Court of Appeal found that the last three orders to test working capacity were based on unfounded suspicions of the employee’s state of health. To this extent treatment was discriminatory on the basis of state of health.

The District Court and subsequently the Court of Appeal found that the actions directed at the employee had clearly discriminated against him compared to other employees without giving him the opportunity to be heard and present his views on the changes in the employment relationship. Nor was the employee able to influence the sick leave and working capacity tests ordered by the company. The company claimed that the employee had not been treated differently than other employees.

Employer withheld unpaid wages in contravention of the collective agreement 

In its decision, the District Court found that the Retail sector collective agreement should have been applied to the employee’s employment relationship, and ordered the company to pay the employee unpaid wages of 815.97 and 598.15 euros because the company had deducted Kela sick leave payments from the employee’s pay in contravention of the collective agreement.

Like the District Court, the Court of Appeal also found that as regards unpaid wages for sick leave that the company should comply with the Retail sector collective agreement and that deducting Kela allowances from sick pay was contrary to that collective agreement. The employee was entitled to his unpaid amounts. To this extent the Court of Appeal did not alter the District Court’s judgment.

Each year PAM deals with around 1500 disputes involving members. PAM members can get legal assistance for disputes relating to employment or working conditions.