- 22 Sep 2015
- Sabine Buhl Valentiner
It did not constitute age discrimination to offer an extended notice period to employees with short service and not to a long-serving employee.
It will constitute indirect discrimination if an apparently neutral staff policy works to the disadvantage of employees of a certain age compared with other employees, unless the staff policy, condition or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. But is a policy providing for six months' notice to all employees in case of redundancies – regardless of their length of service – in breach of the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act? That was the question before the Danish Eastern High Court in this case.
The case concerned a round of redundancies affecting 19 employees at the Danish Road Directorate. According to its staff policy, the Directorate would endeavour in case of redundancies to give all employees six months' notice, regardless of their length of employment.
The Directorate dismissed all 19 employees at six months' notice – even though seven of them had not served long enough to be entitled to six months' notice under the law.
One of the senior employees who was affected by the redundancies was already entitled to six months' notice under the law, and she argued that the staff policy and the manner in which it was put into practice amounted to age discrimination because the policy treated her younger colleagues with shorter service more favourably than her – and the case ended up before the High Court.
The High Court ruled in favour of the Directorate, giving weight to the fact that all of the affected employees had been treated equally, whatever their age and length of service. Accordingly, the employee was not treated less favourably than her colleagues. The Court cited a judgment from the EU Court in an Austrian case where it was held that differential treatment with regard to length of service does not constitute direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of age.
Norrbom Vinding notes
- that the judgment is an example showing that it is not in breach of the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age under the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act for a staff policy, provision, characteristic or practice to treat all employees equally – regardless of length of service.