Labour law: current case studies and judgments

Read the background and rulings on exciting issues that concern employees and employers alike:

  • What happens to already granted leave during a quarantine order?
  • Dismissal without notice even in the case of embezzlement of low-value amounts?
  • Dismissal without notice for reading and passing on someone else’s e-mail?
  • Can interns also be entitled to minimum wage?
  • Secret recording conversation at work: Can employees be dismissed (without notice) for this reason?

Labour law – concrete case studies

What happens to leave already granted during a quarantine order?

Several courts have ruled that an employer does not have to “grant” leave that has already been granted during an administrative quarantine order.

In the underlying case, the plaintiff was on recuperation leave granted by her employer. Due to a Corona illness of her daughter, she had to be quarantined. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff also tested positive and had to be quarantined at home herself by order of the health department.

The plaintiff did not have a doctor examine her, so no certificate of incapacity was issued. With her lawsuit, the plaintiff wanted to have the ten vacation days “retroactively granted”. However, this lawsuit was dismissed.

The last word is not yet spoken here, however, because in a comparable case, an employee was awarded the subsequent granting of vacation by another court. Appeals against both opinions are pending before the Federal Labor Court.

Dismissal without notice also in case of embezzlement of low-value amounts?

The embezzlement of low-value amounts can condition an extraordinary terminationif the employee has previously been given a relevant warning, according to the ruling of the Hesse Regional Labor Court (Landesarbeitsgericht, LAG).

Property and pecuniary offenses committed by the employee at the expense of the employer regularly constitute an important reason in themselves for extraordinary termination of the employment relationship. This is a significant breach of the employee’s duty to consider the interests of the employer.

In principle, an employer may monitor the normal work behavior of employees by means of so-called “honesty checks”. A prohibition of the use of evidence based on the employee’s general right to privacy could at most be considered if additional circumstances exist, for example if the employer has created a special “seduction situation”.

Dismissal without notice for reading and passing on someone else’s e-mail?

The Cologne Regional Labor Court (LAG) has ruled that reading an e-mail obviously addressed to another addressee and copying and passing on the e-mail attachment (private chat history) to third parties may, in individual cases, justify extraordinary termination without notice, even if there is authorization to access the e-mail account for official business.

The unlawful data processing of the employee in the employment relationship, which is accompanied by violations of the general personal rights, for example, of work colleagues, may constitute good cause for the issuance of a notice of termination if the violation is of corresponding severity.

Even opening and reading the e-mails constitutes a breach of duty, regardless of whether they were specifically searched for or discovered by chance. Printing, copying and forwarding are further breaches of duty. If the relationship of trust is sustainably violated, no prior warning is necessary.

Can interns also be entitled to minimum wage?

In principle, yes. Interns are also entitled to the minimum wage under the Minimum Wage Act – unless one of the exceptions nominated in the Act applies.

According to the Federal Labor Court (BAG), interns are not entitled to the statutory minimum wage, among other things,

  • if they complete a compulsory internship,
  • which is an admission requirement for taking up a course of study according to a provision of higher education law,

Secret recording conversation at work: Can employees be dismissed (without notice) for this reason?

Do you have any questions?

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Our expert advises:

Christian Seidel

Lawyer, Specialst in labour law

Authorized signatory of Acconsis GmbH Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft

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