CJEU - C 555/07 / Judgment Seda Kücükdeveci v Swedex GmbH & Co. KG

Key facts of the case:

This case concerned the interpretation of the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age as given expression by Directive 2000/78 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. Under German employment law, periods of employment completed by an employee before reaching the age of 25 are not taken into account for calculating the period. Ms Kücükdeveci had been employed by Swedex since the age of 18. At the age of 28, she was dismissed by that company, with one month’s notice. The company calculated the notice period as if she had three years’ length of service, although she had worked for it for ten years: in accordance with the German legislation, no account was taken of the periods of employment completed before Ms Kücükdeveci was 25. She brought proceedings to challenge her dismissal, claiming that the legislation constituted discrimination on grounds of age, prohibited by European Union law.

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

The Court concluded that EU law, more particularly the principle of nondiscrimination on grounds of age as given expression by Directive 2000/78, precludes national legislation such as the German rule which provides that periods of employment completed by an employee before reaching the age of 25 are not taken into account in calculating the notice period for dismissal.

Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:

EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - Article: 21 The decision noted that "Article 6(1) TEU provides that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is to have the same legal value as the Treaties. Under Article 21(1) of the charter, ‘[a]ny discrimination based on … age … shall be prohibited’." the Court stated that the national court, hearing proceedings between individuals, must ensure that the principle of nondiscrimination on grounds of age as given expression in Directive 2000/78 is complied with, disapplying if need be any contrary provision of national legislation, independently of whether it makes use of its entitlement to ask the Court for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of that principle.

Deciding body (original language): 
European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber)