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Spain: The reasons of an agreed collective dismissal can not be reviewed in an individual claim

The Employees worked in a music and dance school belonging to a City Council where a collective dismissal procedure was initiated. The Consultation Period ended with an agreement that was submitted to the vote of the affected employees, not showing signs of fraud, coercion or abuse of right in its achievement. The Company communicated to employees the termination of their contracts for productive and organizational reasons and offered each employee the compensation of 33 days per year of service.

Some employees considered that the productive or organizational causes alleged in the termination of their contracts had not occurred and filed a claim to the court. The claim was dismissed by the county court and the High Court of Justice, which alleged that if the collective dismissal ended with an agreement between the parties, the concurrence of the reasons could not be questioned. In this sense, the Employees filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court decided to dismiss the appeal for the following reasons:

a) The acceptance of the concurrence of legal causes that justify the collective dismissal falls within the scope of collective bargaining. It must also be taken into account that:

  • If the agreement between the parties had been adopted violating the regulations to the detriment of the workers, there is the possibility of challenging them for fraud, bad faith, coercion or abuse of rights
  • If they are valid agreements, allowing individual claims would mean denying the effectiveness of the agreement made through the Employee Committee.

b) To avoid the possibility that there are multitude of individual claims discussing the concurrence of causes, and achieving contradictory results, with the difference in legal treatment that this would imply.

For all these reasons, when the cassation appeal for doctrine unification is dismissed, the judgements given are confirmed.

However, this is a conflict rule because not all the judges were agreeing with this result. Five of the eleventh judges that take part of the Supreme Court state that the employees may have the possibility to question the causes of the dismissal in an individual lawsuit.