Among the highlights in recent Portuguese case law is the judgment of the Supreme Court of Justice of January 20 2016.(1) In this case, the court was asked to decide on the lawfulness of a dismissal.

Facts and decision

In the judgment, the Supreme Court of Justice held that it was unlawful to dismiss a director in the context of a business reorganisation. The court found that the director's behaviour in humiliating, threatening and disrespecting colleagues and subordinates – which formed the basis of his dismissal – was not severe enough to justify his dismissal for just cause.

The court held that the director had violated the rights of his fellow employees through insults, threats, humiliation and disrespect for rest periods. However, it decided that these facts were not serious enough to be considered just cause for dismissal. The court considered the provisions of Article 351(1) of the Employment Code, which establishes that just cause for dismissal requires intentional conduct on the part of the employee which – because of its seriousness and consequences – makes it immediately and practically impossible for the working relationship to continue.

The facts attributed to the director did not make the continuation of the working relationship unsustainable because the director's dismissal arose in the context of a business reorganisation by the employer, which decided to discontinue his position.

No reinstatement

Without prejudice to holding that the dismissal was unlawful, the Supreme Court of Justice decided that the reinstatement of the director with the employer would be seriously prejudicial and would disrupt the proper functioning of the employer. The court reasoned that the duties performed by the director required a high level of trust between the parties and that trust no longer existed because of the way in which the director had been dismissed.

For further information on this topic please contact Filipe Azoia at AAMM Sociedade de Advogados RL by telephone (+351 211 940 538) or email (fa@aamm.pt). The AAMM website can be accessed at www.aamm.pt.

Endnotes

(1) Case 1715/12.6TTPRT.P1.S1, available on the Institute for Financial Management and Justice Equipment database.

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