08. Jul 16

LAG Schleswig-Holstein: Dismissal following sit-in effective

Everything has its limits, including negotiations concerning a wage increase. As demonstrated by a ruling of the Landesarbeitsgericht Schleswig-Holstein (LAG) [Regional Labour Court of Schleswig-Holstein], these can even end with the dismissal of the employee.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: Employment law provides for the possibility of even longstanding employees being dismissed without a prior formal warning. That was the verdict of the LAG Schleswig-Holstein on May 6, 2015 (Az.: 3 Sa 354/14).

The circumstances of the case before the LAG were very particular. A longstanding department head within a company wanted more money. In order to lend weight to her demands, she was prepared to resort to unconventional methods. As discussions with her superior regarding a wage increase continued without success, she refused to leave his office and began a sit-in strike. Despite all efforts, she could not be convinced to leave the room. Attempts to explain that she was violating her obligations under employment law as well as the company’s right to determine who should be allowed or denied access to the premises were equally fruitless. She remained stubborn. Eventually, the police had to escort her out of the room. The next day, the employee sent out an email that included the following sentence: “Wer solche Vorgesetzten hat, braucht keine Feinde mehr” (With superiors like these, who needs enemies).

In doing so, she had finally overstepped the mark. The employer terminated the employment contract with immediate effect and, in the alternative, giving ordinary notice with effect from the next possible date. The employee’s action for wrongful dismissal was only partially successful. The LAG held that the ordinary notice of termination had been effective.

The Court stated that the employee had committed a serious breach of her duties. All of the attempts made by the employer to deescalate the situation were said to have been blocked by her. Equally significant was the fact that she had been a role model for her co-workers in her capacity as an executive employee. For this reason, it would not have been possible to re-establish a relationship of trust even following a formal written warning. The Court therefore concluded that the dismissal was justified, and that the only reason the employee was spared from dismissal without notice was her long and exemplary service at the company.

Lawyers who are competent in the field of employment law can advise on drafting employment contracts, notices of termination, severance packages as well as with respect to other issues pertaining to employment law.

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