Article 20 - Equality before the law
Article 21 - Non-discrimination
Article 51 - Field of application
Key facts of the case:
‛Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Equal treatment in employment and occupation — United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — Articles 5 and 27 — Directive 2000/78/EC — Article 7 — Enhanced protection in the event of dismissal of employees with disabilities — No such protection for civil servants with disabilities — General principal of equal treatment’
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Second Chamber) hereby rules:
50) It follows from the foregoing that the legislation at issue in the main proceedings comes within the scope of Article 7(2) of Directive 2000/78 and, as such, pursues an objective covered by EU law, for the purposes of the Court’s settled case-law adopted in order to determine whether such a national measure falls within the implementation of EU law within the meaning of Article 51(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’) (see, to that effect, judgments of 6 March 2014, Siragusa, C‑206/13, EU:C:2014:126, paragraphs 22 and 25 and the case-law cited, and of 10 July 2014, Julián Hernández and Others, C‑198/13, EU:C:2014:2055, paragraph 37).
54) It follows that the national legislation applicable to the main proceedings falls within the implementation of EU law, which means that, in the present case, the general principles of EU law, including the principle of equal treatment, and of the Charter are applicable (see, to that effect, judgment of 10 July 2014, Julián Hernández and Others, C‑198/13, EU:C:2014:2055, paragraph 33).
55) The principle of equal treatment is a general principle of EU law, now enshrined in Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter, which requires that comparable situations must not be treated differently and that different situations must not be treated in the same way unless such treatment is objectively justified (judgments of 22 May 2014, Glatzel, C‑356/12, EU:C:2014:350, paragraph 43, and of 21 December 2016, Vervloet and Others, C‑76/15, EU:C:2016:975, paragraph 74 and the case-law cited). A difference in treatment is justified if it is based on an objective and reasonable criterion, that is, if the difference relates to a legally permitted aim pursued by the legislation in question, and it is proportionate to the aim pursued by the treatment (judgment of 22 May 2014, Glatzel, C‑356/12, EU:C:2014:350, paragraph 43 and the case-law cited).
64) In view of all the foregoing considerations, the answer to the first and third questions is that Article 7(2) of Directive 2000/78, read in the light of the UN Convention and in conjunction with the general principle of equal treatment enshrined in Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter, must be construed as allowing legislation of a Member State, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which confers on employees with certain disabilities specific advance protection in the event of dismissal, without conferring such protection on civil servants with the same disabilities, unless it has been established that there has been an infringement of the principle of equal treatment, that being a matter for the referring court to determine. When making that determination, the comparison of the situations must be based on an analysis focusing on all the relevant rules of national law governing the positions of employees with a particular disability, on the one hand, and the positions of civil servants with the same disability, on the other, having regard, in particular, to the purpose of the protection against dismissal at issue in the main proceedings.
78) Since these proceedings are, for the parties to the main proceedings, a step in the action pending before the national court, the decision on costs is a matter for that court. Costs incurred in submitting observations to the Court, other than the costs of those parties, are not recoverable.