The Belgian branch of an international group cited “malfunction” as the basis for terminating an employee with dual nationality (Dutch / Spanish). As proof of the malfunctioning, the employer submitted several evaluation forms, which were drafted in English. The employee on the other hand, raised the argument that these forms were null, because they were not in accordance with the Flemish Language Decree, which prescribes, under penalty of nullity, that all certificates and documents addressed to the personnel of companies with an operational office in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium must be drafted in Dutch.
The Labor Court of Appeal of Brussels judged however, that the evaluation forms were valid as the employer was part of an international group and the employee was a foreign worker with Spanish nationality, whose knowledge of the Dutch language was intermediate. Therefore, the Dutch language could not be used for his evaluations. Furthermore, the Labor Court of Appeal noted that the employee personally used the English language during his employment, so it was logical that the employer did the same in his contacts with the employee. In accordance with the European Court of Justice ruling of 16 April 2013 (no. C-202/11), the Labor Court of Appeal ruled that the employee could not invoke the penalty of nullity as foreseen in the Flemish Language Decree, since, in an international context, such sanction is disproportionate and forms an obstacle to the free movement of workers within the EU.