Unfair Dismissal of Nationalist Salesman

Co-workers' discomfort with employee of a specific political opinion could not justify the dismissal of the employee. This was established by the Danish Board of Equal Treatment by a decision of 4 September 2013.

The case involved an employee who - without reason - was dismissed on 14 December 2012 after 3 ½ months' employment. The dismissal took place shortly after the company's Christmas party where the employee had admitted to another employee that he was the leader of Party X, but where he according to himself had also refused to mix this up with work. The employee felt that the dismissal was due to him being a nationalist and that, consequently, the dismissal was contrary to the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act.

The employee submitted transcripts from recordings of conversations with other employees and with the management on 10 December 2012 as well as of the meeting at which he had been dismissed on 14 December 2012. From the conversations it appeared that the employee had continuously requested an explanation, but that the employer had stated that an explanation was not granted in connection with dismissals within the first 9 months' of employment.

The employer argued that the Board of Equal Treatment should dismiss the case as there were no submissions in writing, and, moreover, the company claimed to have a right to counter-examine the employees with whom the employee had conversed. However, the Board of Equal Treatment overruled this. The employer stated that the reason for the dismissal was a desire for order in the workplace as around 12 employees had indicated that they were not interested in working with the relevant employee.

The Board of Equal Treatment found that an assumption of discrimination had been created, and, consequently, it was for the employer to prove that no such discrimination had taken place. The Board of Equal Treatment did not find that the employer's assessment of the risk of serious disorder and discomfort, including employees' refusal to work, employees calling in sick and employees resigning, was a sufficient reason for the dismissal. Moreover, the Board of Equal Treatment attached importance to the fact that the employee had never towards his co-workers, clients or other stakeholders, either through his conduct or otherwise, neglected his obligations towards the employer in such a manner that would justify a dismissal.

Consequently, the employee was awarded compensation of DKK 150,000, corresponding to approximately 6 months' salary.

The decision shows that co-workers' discomfort as well as the desire to avoid the possibility of clients linking the employees to certain political opinions by browsing through the internet are not sufficient to justify a dismissal as long as the employee is loyally fulfilling his obligations towards the employer.

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