Key facts of the case:
After having been dismissed by the general meeting of shareholders, the former sole member of the board of directors of a public limited company argued in court that, due to her pregnancy, the dismissal was illegal in the light of EU secondary law. The court of second instance decided to refer to CJ.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
- A member of a capital company’s Board of Directors who provides services to that company and is an integral part of it must be regarded as having the status of worker for the purposes of Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding (tenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC), if that activity is carried out, for some time, under the direction or supervision of another body of that company and if, in return for those activities, the Board Member receives remuneration. It is for the national court to undertake the assessments of fact necessary to determine whether that is so in the case pending before it.
- Article 10 of Directive 92/85 is to be interpreted as precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which permits a member of a capital company’s Board of Directors to be removed from that post without restriction, where the person concerned is a ‘pregnant worker’ within the meaning of that directive and the decision to remove her was taken essentially on account of her pregnancy. Even if the Board Member concerned is not a ‘pregnant worker’ within the meaning of Directive 92/85, the fact remains that the removal, on account of pregnancy or essentially on account of pregnancy, of a member of a Board of Directors who performs duties such as those described in the main proceedings can affect only women and therefore constitutes direct discrimination on grounds of sex, contrary to Article 2(1) and (7) and Article 3(1)(c) of Council Directive 76/207/EEC of 9 February 1976 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions, as amended by Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002.