(CN) – A German law discriminates against young workers by omitting employment held before age 25 in figuring notice time for dismissal, Europe’s Court of Justice ruled.
Swedex employee Seda Kücükdeveci challenged the company’s one-month notice time when she was let go at 28 years old in 2006. She had worked there for 10 years, since she was 18.
German law scales required notice time against total length of the employment period. For example, if an employee has worked at a company for 10 years, the company must give them four months notice, and if they’ve been there only two years, one month.
The rule does not, however, count employment completed before 25 years of age in figuring total time. This is intended to give the employer flexibility in managing younger workers, who tend to be more mobile.
The Court of Justice stressed that non-discrimination is a principle of EU law, though a directive from 2000 allows a difference of treatment if “appropriate and necessary” for the aim of employment, labor market or under vocational training policies.
The court found the German rule inappropriate and unnecessary for labor market purposes, because it applies regardless of the worker’s age when they are let go.
The court concluded that EU non-discrimination law precludes such legislation, but left it up to national courts to analyze individual situations.