Accommodation in Shared Rooms was not an Abuse of Managerial Authority

It was not an abuse of managerial authority that the overnight accommodation of employees in connection with a training course took place in shared rooms. This was established by judgment of the Danish Industrial Court on 14 November 2013.

The case concerned a company which had decided that overnight accommodation of the employees in connection with a training course should basically take place in shared rooms although, until then, the company had made single rooms available to all employees. The trade union of the employees was of the opinion that this changed procedure was an abuse of the employer's managerial authority and therefore took legal action at the Industrial Court.

Initially, the Industrial Court established that in the absence of collective agreements on the organisation of staff training, it is the employer who - by virtue of his managerial authority - decides on the organisation of training courses, including the accommodation of the participants. However, the employer's decisions must be based on objective grounds and operational considerations.

Bearing in mind the financial situation of the company in question and its wish to be able to continue its in-service training programme, the Industrial Court found that the employer's change of procedure was based on both objective grounds and operational considerations. Consequently, the question remained whether the fact that the participants in the training course were to spend the night two by two in the same room constituted such neglect of the personal integrity of the individuals concerned that it was an abuse of managerial authority.

According to the Industrial Court, there are no generally accepted social norms in today's society implying that it must be regarded as offensive to adult persons of the same gender having to spend the night in shared rooms in a work-related context. The Industrial Court attached importance to the facts that the firm providing the training course facilities to the employer to a great extent offered shared rooms to many different companies and organisations, that the training courses in question still were in great demand in spite of the arrangement with shared rooms, and that the arrangement had only in rare cases given rise to dissatisfaction or discomfort. Therefore, the employer had not abused his managerial authority in connection with the changed procedure.

The judgment shows that the accommodation of employees of the same gender in shared rooms in connection with training courses does not constitute an abuse of managerial authority.

Basically, the employer has the right to freely organise training courses. However, the employer may not organise courses in a way that is offensive to the personal integrity of the employees. Whether this is the case must be judged in the light of generally accepted social norms. Thus, it is generally accepted that a situation which is offensive to the individual employee constitutes an abuse of managerial authority. Compulsory accommodation of employees of different gender in shared rooms would normally be an abuse of managerial authority.

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