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10 September 2019
Following a fall in profits for three consecutive years, an Italian company decided to reorganise its workforce to reduce labour costs and increase its productivity and profitability. Pursuing this objective, the company proposed reduced working hours for all employees as well as changing their employment contracts from full-time to part-time, with a corresponding reduction in their remuneration.
All employees accepted the proposal, with the sole exception of one worker, who rejected it and was unwilling to change his full-time employment relationship into a part-time employment relationship.
The company acknowledged the employee's unwillingness to reduce his working hours, but decided that maintaining a full-time employment relationship was no longer consistent with its reorganisation and was unfavourable to its aim of increased productivity. As the company was unable to reduce the employee's working hours and salary, it dismissed him based on Article 3 of Law 604/1966. According to this provision, an employer may dismiss a worker for "justified objective reasons" relating to production, work organisation and the proper operation of a business.
The employee challenged the dismissal before the competent local court, claiming unlawful dismissal and reinstatement or compensation for damages suffered.
Both the first-instance court and the court of appeals decided in favour of the employee and declared that his dismissal had been unlawful.
The employer appealed this decision before the Supreme Court of Cassation, which repealed the lower court decisions, stating that the dismissal had been incorrectly found to be unlawful.(1)
The employee argued that his dismissal had been unlawful based on the following arguments (which the local court and the court of appeals had accepted):
Conversely, the company supported the legitimacy of the dismissal, arguing that:
The Supreme Court of Cassation found the company's legal arguments to be valid and stressed the following points:
For further information on this topic please contact Sergio Passerini at Ichino Brugnatelli e Associati by telephone (+39 02 48193249) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Ichino Brugnatelli e Associati website can be accessed at www.ichinobrugnatelli.it.
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