Court of Cassation, Employment Section, Judgement 7 April 2021, no. 9304
Serious violation of the highway code while driving a company car constitutes grounds for dismissal for just cause – albeit reasons unrelated to the job.
The case originates from the dismissal for just cause of an employee for serious violations of the highway code – entering a crossroads on a flyover in the wrong direction, risk of causing an accident – while driving company car, reacting badly to the Traffic Police, alleging non-existent work-related reasons to try to justify his traffic violations and using the name of the company for his own ends.
The employee sued for unfair dismissal. The court found (and this was upheld by the Court of Appeal) that the dismissal was legitimate, given that the conditions for just cause for dismissal were met, even though the claimant’s conduct was not included among the types of conduct covered by the provisions of the national collective bargaining agreement applied as constituting just cause for dismissal.
The Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal stating that “the collective contractual typification of “just cause” has a merely illustrative, not preclusive of its assessment of the suitability of a serious breach, or a serious behavior of the employee contrary to the rules of communal ethics and civility the irreparable rupture of the relationship of trust between employer and employee”: with the only limitation “of not being able, if a particular conduct of the employee alleged by the employer as a just cause for dismissal is provided for by the collective agreement requires a specific disciplinary infraction, which corresponds to a conservative sanction, make it the subject of an independent assessment of greater seriousness (Cass. June 17, 2011, no. 13353; Cass. May 7, 2015, no. 9223; Cass. May 7, 2020, no. 8621)”.
Based on this premise, the Supreme Court rejected the employee’s claim, confirming the legitimacy of the dismissal for just cause.