With the recent ruling no. 15118 of 31 May 2021, the Court of Cassation ruled that the initiation of multiple individual dismissal procedures for objective justified reasons under Article 7 of Law 604/66 does not count when calculating the minimum number of five dismissals required to open collective dismissal procedures.
The ruling stems from the dismissal for objective justified reasons of a worker who, in challenging her dismissal, claimed the company had failed to initiate the collective dismissal procedure. This is despite the fact the company had informed the local employment office within 120 days of its intention to dismiss seven employees for objective justified reasons. All employees had been terminated by mutual consent.
The worker’s claims were rejected in the first instance. In the second instance, they were upheld by the Court of Appeal of Trieste, which declared that the dismissal was illegal due to the failure to initiate the collective dismissal procedure.
The company appealed to the Court of Cassation against the local court’s decision, claiming violation and misapplication of art. 24 of Law 223/91 because the Court of Appeal wrongly equated the intention to dismiss under Art. 7 of Law 604/66 with a real dismissal. In upholding the worker’s appeal, the Court of Cassation based its decision on literal and systematic arguments.
As stated by the Court of Cassation, the expression “intends to dismiss” contained in Art. 24 of Law 223/91 constitutes a clear manifestation of the will to dismiss, while the expression “must declare the intention to dismiss for objective justified reasons” contained in art. 7 of Law 604/66 aims to initiate a compensation (or conciliation) procedure before the Local Employment Office – DTL (now Labour Inspectorate – ITL) and cannot be considered equivalent in itself to dismissal.
Continue reading the full version published in Norme & Tributi Plus Diritto of Il Sole 24 Ore.