An employee challenged a written warning letter he had been issued by his employer before the Labour Court Cologne. A written warning (Abmahnung) is a formalised letter warning the employee that he/she violated his/her duties under the employment contract and that further incidents might lead to a termination of the employment. Having a written warning on an employee’s personal file can, therefore, make it easier to justify a termination in case of another (similar) incident. In case a written warning is not correct, the employee may claim that the employer has to delete such written warning from the personal file.
The written warning in the case at hand was based on the employee watching a soccer game on an office computer during working hours. The Court executed discovery proceedings, i.e. questioned witnesses, and came to the conclusion that the employee had watched the soccer game for at least 30 seconds. On this factual basis, the Court found the written warning was valid, as the employee violated his contractual duties by watching soccer on an office computer during working hours, even if it was for a considerably short period of time. The employee can still appeal this judgement before the competent State Labour Court.