Key facts of the case:
A private citizen filed a complaint to the Ordinary Court of Rome against the dismissal she was communicated by the company she worked for. She was hired with an open-ended contract on 11 May 2015 and dismissed on 15 December 2015. The company justified this decision with the impossibility to sustain the costs of the worker due to economic and financial reasons. The possibility to fire the worker was ruled by art. 3.1 of the Legislative Decree No. 23 of 4 March 2015, on “Dispositions concerning open-ended contracts” (DecretoLegislativo 4 marzo 2015, n. 23, “Disposizioni in materia di lavoro a tempo indeterminato a tutelecrescenti”). The complainant decided to challenge the decision of the company before the Ordinary Court of Rome.
Key legal question raised by the Court:
The Ordinary Court of Rome challenged the constitutional legitimacy of the above-mentioned art. 3.1 of the Legislative Decree No. 23 of 4 March 2015. The challenged disposition concerns employees with an open-ended contract, hired after the entry-into-force of the Decree, that is 7 March 2015. According to the disposition, in case these workers are fired by the employers for an unfair reason, they are entitled to receive a financial compensation of two monthly wages for each year of seniority. According to the complaining Ordinary Court, this disposition violates several constitutional dispositions, including art. 76 and 117.1 of the Italian Constitution for the indirect violation of art. 30 of the EUCFR. This is because the compensation envisaged by the Law is considered inadequate to protect the employers against the possibility of an unfair dismissal: the company did not adequately justify the reason of the dismissal; moreover, if the worker had been hired before the entry-into-force of the Legislative Decree, she would have been entitled to 12 months of monthly wage as financial compensation, in compliance with the previous discipline (Law No. 300/1970).
Outcome of the case:
The Constitutional court did not accept the argumentation of the Ordinary Court of Rome concerning the alleged violation of art. 76 and 117.1 of the Italian Constitution related to the indirect violation of art. 30 of the EUCFR. In fact – according to the Court – the Charter can be used as interposed parameter only in case the EU Member States are implementing the EU law. More specifically, the EUCFR can be used in a constitutional legitimacy proceeding only when the case subject to the internal legislation is directly ruled by the EU legislation and not only by national legislation deprived of any connection with the EU law. In the considered case, the challenged legislative disposition[URJ(1] was still considered constitutionally illegitimate because of the violation of art. 3, 4.1, 35.1 and 76 of the Italian Constitution (for the indirect violation of art. 24 of the European Social Charter). According to the Constitutional court’s argumentation, the discipline ruled by the challenged decision is to be considered illegitimate because the compensation is merely based on the seniority criteria without taking into account all the diverse and individual factors that contribute to the estimation of a fair and balanced compensation for an unfair dismissal. Moreover, the challenged discipline [URJ(2] fails to constitute an adequate deterrent for the employers to unlawfully dismiss their employees.
[URJ(1]it would be better to use the word ‘provision’ when referring to a legal article, rather than using ‘disposition’.
[URJ(2]What does the word ‘discipline’ mean here and elsewhere?
“8. […]As ruled by art. 51 of the ECFR «The provisions of this Charter are addressed […]to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law» (paragraph 1). Considering this disposition, the CJEU always stated that the ECFR dispositions can be applied to the Member states «in the context of the application of the EU law» (ex plurimis, Order of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 7 May 2013, C-617/10, Åklagaren v Hans Åkerberg Fransson; and, more recently, Order of the Court (Eighth Chamber) of 26 October 2017, C-333/17, Caixa Económica Montepio Geral v Carlos Samuel Pimenta Marinho and Others). This Court has therefore stated that «in order for the EUCFR to be applied in a constitutional legitimacy proceeding, it is necessary that the case subject to the national legislation is ruled by the EU law […] and not only by national legislative dispositions deprived of any connection with the EU law (Decision of the Italian Constitutional court No. 80 of 2011»”
“8. […] A norma dell’art. 51 CDFUE, «[l]e disposizioni della presente Carta si applicano […] agli Stati membri esclusivamente nell’attuazione del diritto dell’Unione» (comma 1, primo periodo). Sulla base di tale disposizione, la Corte di giustizia dell’Unione europea ha costantemente asserito che le disposizioni della CDFUE sono applicabili agli Stati membri «quando agiscono nell’ambito di applicazione del diritto dell’Unione» (ex plurimis, Grande sezione, sentenza 26 febbraio 2013, causa C-617/10, Åklagaren contro Hans Åkerberg Fransson e, più recentemente, Ottava sezione, ordinanza 26 ottobre 2017, causa C-333/17, CaixaEconómicaMontepioGeral contro Carlos Samuel Pimenta Marinh e altri). Questa Corte ha perciò affermato che, «perché la Carta dei diritti UE sia invocabile in un giudizio di legittimità costituzionale, occorre, dunque, che la fattispecie oggetto di legislazione interna “sia disciplinata dal diritto europeo – in quanto inerente ad atti dell’Unione, ad atti e comportamenti nazionali che danno attuazione al diritto dell’Unione, ovvero alle giustificazioni addotte da uno Stato membro per una misura nazionale altrimenti incompatibile con il diritto dell’Unione – e non già da sole norme nazionali prive di ogni legame con tale diritto” (sentenza n. 80 del 2011)» (sentenza n. 63 del 2016, punto 7. del Considerato in diritto; nello stesso senso, sentenza n. 111 del 2017 e ordinanza n. 138 del 2011)”