back to top

    CJEU issues judgment over work discrimination concerning sexual orientation

    Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

    The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has ruled that sexual orientation cannot be a reason to refuse to conclude a contract with a self-employed person, in a case brought by a Polish man.

    The plaintiff had worked for state-owned broadcaster TVP for seven years on a self-employed basis and had series of fixed-term contracts. In December 2017, he and his partner posted a video clip to YouTube of a Christmas song promoting tolerance towards same-sex couples, shortly after which the TV station ceased cooperating with him.

    Considering the decision to be based on discrimination against his orientation, the man took the case to the Warsaw Regional Court to demand compensation. The Warsaw court referred the case to the CJEU to clarify whether an EU directive on equal treatment precluded national legislation in regard to contracts with self-employed people.

    The European Court interpreted the directive, leaving it to the Polish court to determine whether its provisions applied to this particular case.

    The CJEU wrote in a press release that, “the concept of ‘conditions for access to employment, to self employment or to occupation’… must be construed broadly, covering the access to any occupational activity.”

    The European court added that “Directive 2000/78 seeks to eliminate, on grounds relating to social and public interest, all discriminatory obstacles to access to livelihoods and to the capacity to contribute to society through work, irrespective of the legal form in which it is provided.”

    “Nevertheless, since activities consisting of the mere provision of goods or services to one or more recipients do not fall within the scope of that directive, the Court specifies that occupational activities falling within the scope of Directive 2000/78, must be genuine and be pursued in the context of a legal relationship characterised by a degree of stability. It is for the referring court to assess whether the activity at issue satisfies that criterion,” the statement continued.

    The CJEU concluded that refusal to renew a contract on the grounds of sexual orientation fell within the directive’s remit, but left it to the Warsaw court to decide whether discrimination had actually occurred in the plaintiff’s case.


    More in section