Home > Workplace > Denmark > 2000-10-25 - Western High Court of Denmark, ‘Musical witness’ case, n. (...)

2000-10-25 - Western High Court of Denmark, ‘Musical witness’ case, n. U.2001.207.V

Workplace · Denmark · Dismissal · Religious belonging

Unlawful dismissal of an employee because of the applicant’s belonging to Jehovah’s witnesses

Key facts of the case - In January 1997 A., who is a Jehovah’s Witness, was hired as a principal of Herning music school. He began work in august 1997. He has been employed before as principal of a music school in Norway for eight years. A.’s position as principal was terminated by letter from the chairman of the board of governors on January 30th 1998. The letter referred to discussions between members of the board of governors about A.’s ability to maintain and expand the cooperation with the music school’s collaborators. The chairman of the board had only mentioned this issue to A. once during A.’s employment. Before the notice of termination a special board meeting had been convened. The agenda as well as the minutes from the meeting referred the potential problems that could arise in light of A’s information about a private matter. The Court assumes that most of the board had not been aware of A’s involvement with Jehovah’s Witnesses prior to this meeting. In the beginning of February the board informed the employees of the music school of the background for the termination of A., mentioning only A.’s ability to extend the cooperation with outside collaborators.

Main reasoning of the Court - The court finds the testimony given by A. is corroborated by the agenda and the minutes from the special board meeting convened prior to the termination and therefore discounts A.’s ability to cooperate with outside collaborators as the main reason for the termination. They hereafter find that A.’s membership of Jehovah’s Witnesses was the main reason for the termination.
The termination was found to have been in contravention of art. 2 of Act n. 459 of 12. June 1996 on prohibition against discrimination in respect of employment etc. and A. was awarded a compensation of Dkk 75,000.