10 bizarre cases where workers got right
Everyone actually benefits from a good employment relationship: the employee, because they dedicate a large part of their life to the company; the employer, because motivated employees are much more productive than dissatisfied ones. However, there are always complaints that land before the judge where you can only shake your head.
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The following examples show in a curious way what can go wrong in the relationship between the bread maker and the employee – and in which cases the courts see the employee in the right.
1. Dressed in the loo
An 80-year-old company boss from Swabia wanted to know more about what his subordinates were up to and made a tour of the sanitary facilities. He also crawled on the floor to look under the toilet doors. He promptly spotted a worker with his trousers on on the bowl. The patriarch took his camera and snapped a photo as evidence of the termination without notice over the toilet door. The court considered such an approach inadmissible. Toilet spying is not allowed.
2. Puff car
A coffee delivery man wanted to draw attention to himself with Rhenish cheerfulness: Large stickers on the side door gave the impression that a naked woman was lounging in the van; on the driver’s door it looked as if the chauffeur was sitting on a sack of coffee beans. When the vehicle should also get red hubcaps, the driver’s collar burst. “I don’t drive with such a puff car,” the 49-year-old yelled at his boss – and was dismissed on the spot. In principle, the court found the company car to be reasonable, but a deserving employee could not simply be dismissed due to a single freaking out. A warning would have been enough.
3. Holiday greetings from the grave
One day a strange letter came in to a Westphalian grocer. The widow of an employee who had been seriously ill for a long time claimed the vacation entitlement was lost. Due to his illness, her husband was unable to take 140 days of vacation, which she, as heiress, now wants to receive in the amount of 16,000 euros. The German judges rejected the lawsuit: a dead person does not need to rest. The European Court of Justice saw it differently. The right to vacation is such a central right that it cannot simply be wiped away with death.
4. Work accident while drunk
It was very happy after a works council meeting – a little too much for one of the works councils. He was so drunk that he fell and was unable to work for a long time due to injury. The company did not want to see an accident at work, but the judges did. On the one hand, official matters were also discussed in the convivial group. On the other hand, the fall occurred on the way back to the hotel room, which should be seen as a way to work. Well then cheers!
An employee doesn’t have to put up with everything. The judges made this unequivocally clear in the following case. A boss had locked his employee in the office in order to have him type in the phone book and only allowed visits to the toilet if accompanied. According to the court, this has nothing to do with ensuring business operations, but is pure harassment. The employee no longer has to go to the horror office, but is paid until the notice period has expired.
6. Duz obligation
Some companies want to appear young, fresh and familiar. Therefore, every employee is not asked and is addressed by their first name – whether they want to or not. That’s not okay, decided a court. Everyone has the right to be addressed with respect. However, this should be made clear at an early stage: The employee of a Swedish clothing chain had endured the penetrating Duzen for two years until he complained. That was too long for the court. In the opinion of the judges, the informal form of address had already become part of his work. The moral of the story: Report immediately if something doesn’t suit you.
7. Color of the underpants
How much individuality is allowed at work? As much as the job can take. A security company that controls passengers at the airport interpreted this principle very narrowly. She issued regulations on what color her employees’ underwear should be, how their hair should be colored, and how long and colorful their fingernails should be. The court largely nodded to the rules: only the color of the hair and nails has nothing to do with the smooth handling of airport controls. The birds of paradise breathe a sigh of relief.
8. Toilet with a stopwatch
The head of a law firm pulled out the stopwatch every time his employee went to the toilet, entered the length of stay in his notebook and then deducted it from his salary at the end of the month. The case ended up in court. There the judges made it clear that whoever hires a person has to reckon with the fact that he or she will have to quit. Staying on the ceramic throne is therefore no reason to cut your wages. There is also no upper limit for the length of stay. Meanwhile, one wonders whether the meticulous boss himself had nothing better to do.
9. With hearse to go shopping
A company car is usually considered a special treat: as an additional remuneration, award and vote of confidence. But what if the company is a funeral home and the company car is a hearse? The Cologne Regional Court decided: Anyone who promises their employees a company car must also ensure that the car can also be used privately. But it is unreasonable to take the children to school in a hearse or to go shopping in this vehicle. When you die, the fun stops.
10. Blasphemy allowed
A sales representative had met his manager twice on the street without greeting him. The ignored boss felt offended and quit the man. Wrong, said the court: A refused greeting is not an insult. An employer also has to accept that he is being blasphemed behind his back. That was the verdict of the judges in the case of a nurse who had ranted about her boss with a colleague. When he found out about it, he became furious and dismissed the woman in a joke. However, there is absolutely no obligation for employees to think positively of their superiors, the judges made clear.
Can anything be learned from these bizarre disputes? Labor courts are there to compensate for the unequal distribution of power between the bread maker and the employee. Because the entrepreneur can justifiably insist that the work is done reliably and that the employment contract is adhered to. But employees are not “subjects” and deserve to be treated with respect. After all, the employees are just as involved in the company’s success as the bosses.
Here you can find out which ineffective clauses are probably also in your rental agreement and represent reasons for a rent reduction.
Sources: sueddeutsche, spiegel, focus, verkehrsrundschau
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