DLP Insights

Dismissal for sudden physical unfitness falls within the dismissal prohibition

Categories: DLP Insights, Case Law | Tag: justified objective reason dismissal, dismissal prohibition

25 Feb 2021

The Court of Ravenna, in its ruling of 7 January 2021, ordered that a worker’s dismissal for sudden physical unfitness for the role falls within the cases of dismissal for objective justified reason prohibited by the Covid-19 emergency regulations.

Facts of the case

A worker challenged his dismissal for objective justified reason in court. The dismissal was notified to him on 30 April 2020 following a sudden physical unfitness for the role, confirmed by the company physician a few days earlier.  

In its defence, the employer argued that the physical unfitness in question was not covered by the emergency legislation, which only prohibits dismissals of a financial nature in the strict sense.

The Court’s decision

In upholding the action brought by the worker, the Court found that dismissal for sudden physical unfitness for the role fell within the category of dismissals based on objective grounds.

The Court ruled that this case falls within the dismissal prohibition imposed by the legislator to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because this type of dismissal was covered by the same reasons of economic and social protection that underlie other dismissals that the emergency legislation
sought to prevent.

According to the Court, dismissal must be regarded as a last resort for a worker who is unfit for the job and for whom dismissal cannot be avoided by adopting organisational measures to enable them to continue working, by transferring them to lower duties, if necessary.

In the Court’s view, the respondent company could have carried out such an assessment after the economic downturn caused by the lockdown.

According to a well-established case law, workers who have cannot perform their duties as a result of an accident or illness cannot be dismissed for justified objective reasons if they can be transferred to equivalent or lower duties. In that case, the employer must employ the worker in a different task within the company, according to its organisational structure. Basically, the employer, although not obliged to change its organisational structure, must assign the disabled person tasks compatible with the nature and degree of their impairments and find the job most suited to their health conditions within the company organisation.

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