In the case before the Labour Court Cologne, an employee had concluded a termination agreement with his employer, pursuant to which the employee was released from his duty to work for a period of over two years, from January 2016 until February 2018. After this period, his employment should end due to the employee’s retirement. The employee was not invited to the Christmas party the employer hosted for all employees in 2016 and the carnival party hosted in 2017. During the further release period, the employer plans to host three more events for all employees: a Christmas party in 2017, a company outing in 2017 and a carnival party in 2018. The employee filed a lawsuit requesting to be invited to these events.
The Labour Court ruled that the employee is entitled to attend social events hosted by the employer for all employees also during the release period. The court clarified that the employer is not obligated to host such events at all, but when an event takes place, the employer may not exclude individual employees from attending without objective grounds. Each employee has an individual claim to attend office parties hosted for all employees based on the general principle of equal treatment. Excluding individual employees would only be permissible based on objective grounds. Such grounds can for example be given if the employee in question disturbed former office parties. In the case before the Labour Court Cologne, there were no objective grounds for excluding the released employee from the office parties. Therefore, the Court ruled in the employee’s favour. This ruling can be appealed in front of the competent State Labour Court.