One of the first cases to be brought under the two-year-old German Equal Treatment Act has recently been heard in the Labour Court at Wiesbaden. In Eisele-Gaffaroglu v R+V Insurance the claimant alleged that she had been discriminated against by her employer on grounds of her sex and Turkish ethnic origin. She claimed that on her return from maternity leave she was assigned to a less lucrative role. Meanwhile the replacement in her old job (a German male) had been awarded a higher salary and a secretary, both of which she had previously requested but not received. Whilst only a first instance decision this case has received a great deal of attention in the German media, principally because the claimant was looking for almost €500,000 in compensation, by far the highest claim for discrimination damages ever brought in Germany. She argued this sum represented her financial losses up to retirement.
The Labour Court upheld part of the claimant’s case, ruling that R+V’s conduct in changing her job following her return from maternity leave constituted unlawful sex discrimination. It went on however to award her only €11,000 by way of compensation, representing three months’ salary. The Judge said that the discrimination did not justify her high claim for damages. The claimant has indicated her intention to appeal against the decision.