Rights of Job Applicants in Germany

Posted In Employment, Labor

The German Federal Labor Court made a very clear ruling regarding job applicants in Germany who are not offered the position for which such applicants applied.  In the Federal Labor Court’s view, a rejected applicant has no right to know whether another applicant was offered or accepted the position.  (Federal Labor Court, verdict dated April 25, 2013, case number 8 AZR 287/08)

This case concerned a plaintiff who was born in the former Soviet Union in 1961.  She applied for a position that was advertised by a German company, the defendant in this case.  Even though the plaintiff fulfilled all required qualifications, she was rejected and did not receive a job offer.  The plaintiff presumed that this decision was based on discrimination for her gender, age and origin.  The Federal Labor Court submitted the case to the European Court of Justice to determine whether the job applicant had a right to information regarding why she was not selected, or if another applicant was selected for the position.  The European Court of Justice rendered its verdict on April 19, 2012 (case number C415/10), and stated that rejected job applicants had no right to this information under European law.

The German Federal Labor Court dismissed the case because it could not detect any evidence of discrimination.  The mere refusal of the defendant to disclose any information related to the application process and/or the hiring could not establish the presumption of an inadmissible discrimination, according to Section 7 of the German General Equal Treatment Act.

However, this ruling has to be viewed with great caution.  The German decision is not in line with the aforementioned ruling in the same matter of the European Court of Justice.  The European judges, in contrast to the German Court, stressed that the complete refusal to give out any information regarding the hiring could actually be evaluated as a presumption of possible discrimination.  This remarkable difference in the two verdicts was not explained by the German judges and as long as their reasoning remains unclear, German employers should provide a short explanation to rejected applicants when they ask the reason why they have been rejected for an open position (e.g., the other candidate better satisfies the qualification profile, made a better impression at the job interview, seems to be a more motivated and energetic person, etc.).

Dr. Gudrun Germakowski
  Dr. Gudrun Germakowski advises on all individual and collective aspects of labor and employment law. She focuses her practice on counseling in the field of complex severance processes and in negotiating with employee representatives (works councils and unions) in individual and restructuring projects. Gudrun also concentrates on advising clients in relation to contract design, with a particular emphasis on international assignment of employees, as well as developing and implementing compensation systems and company car arrangements. Read Dr. Gudrun Germakowski's full bio.


Dr. Sandra Urban-Crell
Dr. Sandra Urban-Crell has vast experience across the spectrum of labor and employment law, having handled everything from day-to-day practical advice tailored to her national and international clients’ operational and commercial needs, to complex multi-jurisdictional transactions from strategic planning through post-merger integration. She regularly advises on co-determination matters on the company and board levels, and on outsourcing and restructurings, including negotiations with employee representatives. Sandra is an experienced litigator and has particular knowledge of international assignments, service agreements for board members, managing directors and executive employees (including separation processes), and bonus and benefit plans. Read Dr. Sandra Urban-Crell's full bio.

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