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Hostile messages on social media: it is anti-union behaviour if the company doesn’t expressly condemn (Newsletter Norme & Tributi n. 155 Camera di Commercio Italo-Germanica – Vittorio De Luca, Elena Cannone)

30 Nov 2021

By an order of 11 August, the Court of Milan ruled that allowing a company’s official to disseminate hostile messages through the social networks against a union, its representatives and its actions is anti-union behaviour. The Court also found that the Company had encouraged its employees to join another union, by adding a link to it on its Intranet. According to the Court, anti-union behaviour should not be determined based on fixed and unchanging structural features, but by verifying case by case whether the conduct is liable to harm the collective interests represented by the union. Here, the Court noted, the messages circulated through the social platforms expressed animosity directed at trade unions, including the claimant. Also, the Company’s decision to offer a specific union more favourable conditions that provided in the contractual terms is in breach of the non-discrimination rule under Art. 15 of the Italian Workers’ Statute and the principles of fairness and good faith. In summary, the Court found that the Company’s conduct affected the union’s freedom and ability to contract, by undermining its credibility and image, and thus its ability to attract new members.

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