Czech Republic: Case Law: A trade union established solely for its new officials to be protected from being terminated
Author: Klára Sleglova
The Czech Supreme Court has addressed the issue of the establishment of a trade union with the sole objective of protecting its founders from termination of their employment by the trade union’s deliberate denial of consent to the employer’s proposed termination of employment of the founders.
(File number: 21 Cdo 474/2021-713)
In this case, the employee was a member of a trade union body and was served with a notice of termination on the grounds of redundancy [pursuant to Section 52(c) of the Czech Labour Code] despite the trade union refusing to grant consent to the employer, which is necessary when terminating employment with a member of the trade union body. The employee sought a court determination of the invalidity of the termination.
Under current legal regulations, a court can deem a termination valid even without trade union consent, provided that all other conditions for termination (or immediate termination) are met. However, this decision can only be rendered if it would be unjust to require the employer to continue employing the person, typically due to the employer’s economic situation.
It further emerged from the circumstances of the case that the founders of the trade union organization were not genuinely interested in advocating for the rights of all employees in the company, as they ignored requests from some employees to join the union. Additionally, some of the founders were aware that they faced personnel consequences due to deficiencies in their work performance.
The Supreme Court ruled that it falls outside the jurisdiction of courts to assess the motives behind the establishment of a trade union or the trade union’s approach to asserting its rights with the employer and admitting new members. Such an assessment would constitute an interference by state power into the right of association and the independence of trade unions, which contradicts the Constitution of the Czech Republic.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court holds that the establishment of a trade union driven solely by one specific objective does not constitute grounds for waiving the obligation to obtain the consent of the trade union to terminate employment with its officials. The case will now have to be heard again by the court of first instance.
- For employers, this decision is crucial for ensuring proper procedures when terminating employment with trade union officials, aiming to prevent invalidity of termination, potential reinstatement, and compensation for lost salaries.
- Courts cannot assess the intensity and manner of a trade union’s activity aimed at protecting employees’ rights.