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ISSUE 54 page 6

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Recent rulings from the European Courts


Insurance quotes cannot take gender into account
Place of work more important than company HQ
When the anti gender-discrimination directive was passed in 2004, in addition to giving Member States the usual three years to implement it in national law, the EU allowed an exception to be made in the case of premiums and benefits if statistics supported differential treatment. Thus car insurance companies could charge less to young women than to young men as figures indicated they were less likely to have an accident. However all such derogations had to be reviewed five years later, by December 2012. Test-Achats, a Belgian consumer group, brought a case to annul the corresponding Belgian law on the grounds that it went against the higher EU principle of introducing, albeit gradually, equality between men and women. The ECJ decided that, because there was no time limit on the exception, it must end, across Europe, next year.
The tangle of employment law difference between EU Member States has been highlighted by a recent case before the European Court of Justice. Mr. Heiko Koelzsch delivered flowers from Denmark to Germany but his employer, the Gasa company, had its offices in Luxembourg. When he received notice of redundancy following a restructuring exercise Mr. Koelzsch brought a claim for damages and compensation on the grounds that, as a works council member, it was illegal under German law to sack him. The ECJ ruled that, even if the contract of employment stated which national jurisdiction was to be followed, workers cannot be deprived of any protection given by the law of the country in which they carry out most of their duties.

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