CJEU verdicts

The role of the CJEU

The Court of  Justice of the European Union is the EU's highest court and has the interpretational sovereignty over the European legislation. It is tasked with ensuring an EU-wide and equal application of law (directives, etc.).

Below you can find exemplary verdicts by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerning the interpretation of the EU Equality Directives.


In General:

Assertion of the claim within 2 months

In this case, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a 2-month period to assert a claim for discrimination is lawful if this deadline is not less favourable than the one for comparable, national legal remedies in labour law. In addition, the beginning of the period may not make the exercise of rights conferred by the Directive impossible or excessively difficult.

The national court is responsible for examining whether these two conditions are met.

CJEU, verdict of the 8th July 2010 – C-246/09


Discrimination by association (Coleman)

Subject of the proceedings were policies of the British Act of 1995 on discrimination on grounds of disability (Disability Discrimination Act 1995). It was about the dismissal of an employee who is not disabled herself, but whose child is disabled.

The Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation is to be interpreted in a way meaning that the proposed prohibition of direct discrimination and the prohibition of harassment is not limited to people who are themselves disabled. The principle of equal treatment does not apply to a particular category of people but refers to the grounds mentioned in article 1 of the Directive.

CJEU, verdict of the 17th July 2008 – C-303/06 


Discrimination based on ethnic categorisation:

Ethnic discrimination by public statements of an employer (Feryn)

The lawsuit was brought by the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism against the company NV company Feryn.
The judgment of the Court emphasises that the public statement by an employer saying that he will not employ workers because of their race or ethnic origin constitutes direct discrimination in hiring within the meaning of Directive 2000/43/EC since such statements could prevent certain candidates from submitting their application and thus hinder their access to the labour market.

CJEU verdict of 10.07.2008-Rs. C-54/07

Discrimination on grounds of gender:

Considering gender as a risk factor in insurance contracts (Test-Achats)

Directive 2004/113/EC enshrines the principle of equal treatment for men and women in access to and supply of goods and services.

In the present judgment the CJEU rejects that men and women are in an objectively different situation regarding insurance premiums and insurance benefits in view of the risk insured. According to the Court, the Directive is based 2004/113/EG on a contrary premise. Therefore insurances ought to cost the same for men and women.

CJEU verdict of 01.03. 2011 -Rs C-236/09


Age discrimination:

Discrimination in age limit (Mangold)

Subject of the proceedings of the CJEU was whether the provision of § 14 paragraph section 3 of the part-time and temporary employment law on the facilitated limitation of work contracts with elder workers (from 52 years of age and upwards) is compatible with Article 6 of Directive 2000/78 EC for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

Article 6 § 1 of the Directive provides that unequal treatment on grounds of age does not constitute a discrimination, required it objectively and reasonably serves a legitimate purpose within the context of national law . In accordance with the provisions of the national law, however, the age of the employee concerned is defined as the only criterion for the limitation of employment contracts. The CJEU ruled that the national law infringes the Directive concerning the prohibition of age discrimination. This cannot be justified by Article 6 section 1 of Directive 2000/8.

The verdict’s result is the incompatibility of § 14 TzBfG with the European Community law. Due to the European law’s primacy, German courts have to look at § 14 TzBfG as unapplied and ineffective.

CJEU verdict of 22.11.2005 - Case C-144/04


Age limitation in employment is discriminatory ( Kücükdeveci )

Subject of the proceedings were German provisions according to which periods of employment before the age of 25 are excluded from the calculation of the term of notice. 

Ms Kücükdeveci considered this as an infringement of the Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation, with regard to the prohibition of age discrimination.

The interpretation of this prohibition proves that the national legislation, saying that periods of employment before the age of 25 are not considered in calculating the notice period, is not in conformity with the Directive.

According to the CJEU judgment every national court has to ensure the observance of the prohibition of age discrimination as enshrined in Directive 2000/78/EC in lawsuits between private individuals. Non-compliant provisions of national law should remain unapplied.

CJEU verdict of 19.01.2010 - Case C-555/07


Discrimination based on disability:

Differentiation of 'disease' and 'disability' (Sonia Chacón Navas)

Subject of the proceedings was the dismissal due to illness-related work stoppage. Essential was the distinction between the definition of disability and the term disease.

An employee who is dismissed by the employer solely owing to his/her illness is not covered by the general framework of the Directive to combat discrimination on grounds of disability. According to the CJEU judgment an illness can not be regarded as a ground which prohibits discrimination against a person in accordance with Directive 2000/78.

CJEU verdict of 11.07.2006 - Case C 13-05


Discrimination based on sexual orientation:

Equal supplementary pension for same-sex union and marriage (Römer)

Subject of the proceedings were provisions of the Hamburg complementary pension law (German: Hamburgisches Zusatzversorgungsgesetz). It rules that a more favourable calculation of the amount of pension in comparison to the other recipients of the supplementary pension is applied for not permanently separated spouses, but not for life partners.

Mr. Romans saw this as an infringement of Directive 2000/78/EC with regard to its prohibition of discrimination laid on grounds of sexual orientation.

The Court points out that the finding of discrimination requires that the situations in question are comparable.

The Court states that the life partners, even though their situation is comparable with that of a married couple, experienced a less favourable treatment that can not be explained by factors such as income, the existence of children or the economic needs of the spouse / partner. It was therefore concluded that there has been discrimination based on sexual orientation and the benefits from the additional supply for the registered partner may be claimed.

CJEU verdict of 10 May 2011 - Case C-147/08

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011