This week's decision, dated 10 May 2012), concerned an employee dismissed for economic reasons who claimed unfair dismissal on the grounds that his employer had not complied with its obligation to offer him alternative positions. The employee argued that a position corresponding to his qualifications was available in Munich, in Germany, and that it should have been offered to him.

According to the French Employment Code, the employer is bound by an obligation to search alternative positions for the employees affected by an economic dismissal, and to offer any available position suitable for the employees in the group, even abroad, if appropriate, before notifying the dismissal. Under prevailing case law, the employer is obligated to propose such alternative employment even if this would require supplementary training for the affected employee.

In the present case, the employee did not speak German at all. The question raised was therefore whether, given the very basic knowledge of the employee of the German language, the employer was required to offer him a position in Germany which would have obliged the employer also to offer full and intensive training in German language, to allow the employee to work in Germany. The Court of Appeal and the French Supreme Court both ruled against the employee on the basis that he could not ask to be proposed alternative positions requiring the ability to speak German when he spoke no German at all. The situation would have been different if the employee had been able to speak basic German and only needed to improve his level.

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