The Turkish Constitutional Court ruled that a local court breached a petitioner’s right to fair trial by giving a decision, in an employment termination case, without specifically evaluating and discussing the petitioner’s compensation claims regarding gender discrimination. The court ruled that a retrial should be held to eliminate the effects of the breach. The Constitutional Court’s decision was dated 5 November 2015 and published in Official Gazette number 29612 on 2 February 2016.

In the case at hand, the petitioner filed a criminal complaint asserting that her manager at a private company had insulted her. The court upheld the compliant and imposed a judicial fine.

Two days after the criminal complaint, the petitioner’s employment contract was terminated for being incompatible with her manager. The petitioner filed a reemployment lawsuit against her employer.

The local court ruled in favour of her reemployment and the Court of Appeals approved the local court’s decision. The employer chose to pay compensation to the petitioner, rather than reemploy her.

The petitioner filed another lawsuit against the employer, this time claiming compensation on the basis that her employment was terminated due to gender discrimination. She claimed the male manager’s insults had been determined by a court decision, yet his employment had not been terminated while her employment had. The petitioner argued that the sole reason for this was that she is a woman.

The local court dismissed the lawsuit and the decision was approved by the Court of Appeal. The local court ruled that the reemployment lawsuit already removed the action causing inequality and the petitioner is not entitled to claim further compensation based on the same action.

The petitioner filed an application to the Constitutional Court requesting a retrial and claiming breaches of the equality principle and right to fair trial.

The Constitutional Court rejected the claimed breach of equality principle (Article 10 of the Constitution) on the grounds that:

  • The petitioner did not submit evidence to prove the termination took place based on gender discrimination
  • It was not established how similar the situations of the petitioner and her manager were
  • It was not proven whether the employer’s motives in terminating the petitioner’s employment was indeed gender discrimination.

The Constitutional Court accepted the petitioner’s claim regarding breach of her right to fair trial (Article 36 of the Constitution). The Constitutional Court ruled that the local court and the Court of Appeals:

  • Failed to evaluate and discuss the petitioner’s claims regarding termination of her employment solely based on gender discrimination in terms of discrimination compensation.
  • Failed to establish whether the employer indeed acted contrary to his equal treatment obligation.
  • Failed to consider the petitioner’s claims pointing to a specific law stipulating the requirement to pay discrimination compensation independently from other compensation (such as salaries and other deprived benefits) and her claims as to not being reemployed despite the reemployment judgment rendered in her favour.

Accordingly, the Constitutional Court held that, when the trial process is evaluated as a whole, the petitioner’s right to a reasoned decision had been breached. The Constitutional Court ruled that the local court should conduct a retrial should be held to eliminate the effects of the breach.

The full text of the Constitutional Court’s reasoned decision can be found at this link (only available in Turkish).

Information first published in the MA | Gazette, a fortnightly legal update newsletter produced by Moroğlu Arseven.