A sexist slogan at the Christmas party can justify termination without notice. That was the decision of the Elmshorn Labor Court in a recent case in which a 32-year-old employee had filed a complaint against being thrown out (Az. 3 Ca 1501 e/22). The court assessed a corresponding statement by the plaintiff as sexual harassment and serious insult to a colleague. Even the fact that the whole thing happened as part of a whimsical company party didn't help him.
Specifically, it was about an incident at the Christmas party of a small company with six employees in December 2022. There, a colleague collected money for a gift. When the plaintiff couldn't pay properly and the colleague couldn't change either, the man said in the presence of other colleagues: "We can turn it upside down and swipe the money card through the slot." The defamed colleague complained to the manager that same evening, four days later she was dismissed without notice.
In a statement on the verdict it says: "The labor court makes it clear that unwanted comments with sexual content can also constitute sexual harassment and thus an important reason for extraordinary termination if they aim or cause a violation of the dignity of the person concerned." The same applies to insults among employees, which mean a significant violation of the honor of the person concerned.
The behavior of the plaintiff constitutes sexual harassment and is also extremely offensive. "With the statement, the colleague is degraded in the roughest way to the object of sexual innuendo. She is equated with an object," the court continues. It is not a question of mere "salaciousness", but of a particularly blatant form of degradation. The statement can only be understood as misogynist or sexist. Don't excuse the fact that the plaintiff was only joking.
The overall circumstances of the Christmas party did not change that. Even if alcohol was consumed there and there was a relaxed mood, that didn't make the plaintiff's statement any less bad, the court found. "Such a derogatory, public statement is likely to irretrievably damage the reputation of the only colleague among colleagues and in the company if the employer does not react to it with extraordinary termination."
The decision is not yet final. The plaintiff has appealed to the Schleswig-Holstein State Labor Court.
Source: Labor Court