Legal case Rs. Ring Skouboe Werge

According to a ruling in April 2013 long sick employees, for example people with disabilities, can enjoy a dismissal or demand appropriate aid. In that judgment, the judges have expanded the concept of disability and thus the protection against discrimination. A disease that attracts physical, mental or psychological limitations by itself, therefore, can be equated with a disability. Employers should provide to their employees who are ill with, for example, multiple sclerosis, HIV, or cancer, the aid that is provided for by the German law for people with disabilities.

The case “Rs. Ring and Skouboe Werge”, from April 11, 2013 is relevant as a further development of the case law "Chacon Navas" to the definition of the term "disability". The ECJ noted the UN CRPD to supplement the definition of disability.

The starting points of the judgment are two Danish complaints from 2006. Both cases were about compensation for discrimination on grounds of illness at the workplace. The Danish union HK / Denmark filed a complaint for the two applicants, in particular on the grounds that the shortening option in the period of notice constitutes discrimination on grounds of disability.

Ms. Ring was working in a large Danish property management. Between June and November 2005, she was unable to work more than 120 days due to illness, because she suffered from chronic back pain and "osteoarthritis changes" in the lumbar vertebrae. In order for this woman to work without limitation it would have been necessary to introduce a model of part time work as well as to provide a height-adjustable desk. These two possible actions not only were not offered to her, but instead she was dismissed with a shortened notice period.

Mrs. Skouboe Werge was working as an administrative assistant. After a traffic accident, she suffered from whiplash and was at first partially and then fully on sick leave. She was also terminated on reduced notice.

The Danish court suspended the proceedings and addressed a preliminary ruling with questions to the ECJ about the understanding of the Directive 2000/78 / EC. It was important to know how the concept of 'disability ' within the European Law is interpreted. 

In its judgment of 11 April 2013, the ECJ further developed its case-law on the term disability, taking account of Article 1 of the UN CRPD and included also chronic diseases in this field below. According to the ECJ it is considered a disability if the person is, due to illness, prevented from the "full and effective participation in professional life on equal terms to the other workers ".

The judgment "Rs. Ring and Skouboe Werge " (C - 335-11 and C - 337-11) of 11 April 2013 is available here.

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011