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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