The Italian Cassation Court with its sentence 6750 of 10 March 2020, observed that an employer who demoted and left inactive a worker reintegrated following a ruling of unlawful dismissal notified to the same, is required to pay any personal injury sustained.

The facts

The first instance Judge partially granted the claim submitted by a worker, granting the request for payment of damages sustained by the worker due to demotion and rejected those aimed at compensation for personal injury. The demotion regarded the worker not being reinstated in the position of agency director that he had previously held after the verdict of the trial concerning the lawfulness of his prior dismissal.

The assigned Appeals Court, partly granting the charges expressed by the worker, sentenced the bank employer to compensate the personal injury he sustained and rejected (partly granting the incidental appeal and reversing the judgment of the court of first instance) his request aimed at restitution of the harm to his professional reputation and the additional requests for compensation for damages.

According to the Court of Appeals the request relative to the damage to his professional reputation could not be granted since the worker had not exhibited the injuries suffered due to the ascertained demotion. Instead, the district Court, had granted the request for compensation for personal injury given the “correct deduction” by the worker of the bank’s breach that had forced him, once readmitted on the job, to a substantial inactivity, of the contracted pathologies and the connections between them and the demotion.

The Appeals Court paid the damage, completely placing it as the responsibility of the employer because quantifiable – in the concrete case – at 3% of the disability verified by the court-appointed expert (in a legal context where INAIL can only compensate a damage equal to or greater than 6% and therefore correctly excluding any question of differential damage).

Objecting to the ruling of second instance the worker appealed to the Cassation Court, challenged by the bank which also submitted cross-appeal.

The decision of the Court of Cassation

In rejecting the worker’s request for harm to professional reputation, the Court of Cassation confirmed that the same had not exhibited, for the period considered, the injuries resulting from the ascertained demotion. It follows that, according to the Court, which, without prejudice to the employer’s failure to assign the worker to the previous duties, “the compensation for additional damage is inadmissible, unless you want, inadmissibly, to consider the mere demotion as coinciding with the harm to professional reputation” (cfr. Court of Cassation S.U. 26972/2008, no. 5067/2010, no. 24143/2010).

Moreover, according to the Court of Cassation, the trial judges correctly took into account the deduction, by the worker, of the historical fact of the employer’s breach, that had left him practically inactive, indication of the contracted pathologies and the causation between them and the demotion, as well as the presentation of the medical documentation attesting the disease and his employment from the inferred demotion.

According to the Court of Cassation, the trial judges clarified, in general terms based on case studies on lawfulness (cfr. ex multis Court of Cassation no. 20807 of 14 October 2016; also see Court of Cassation no. 9166 of 10 April 2017; Court of Cassation no. 27669 of 2017 and no. 25618 of 2018), as “the mere welfare indemnity cannot be considered exhaustive of the right to complete protection of health, based on the constitution, thus having to admit the complete compensation of personal injury

The worker had in fact provided all of the allegations necessary for compensation of a damage completely the responsibility of the employer because less than the coverage of welfare indemnity.

To conclude, the Court of Cassation rejected all of the grievances and confirmed what had been ruled on appeal.