Homeworking from Germany

The amendment to an agreement on homeworking for a university lecturer was not in conflict with the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act. She had not established facts raising a presumption of discrimination on the grounds of ethnic or national origin.

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Ethnic and national origin are among the protected criteria in the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act. This means that an employee is protected from, for example, dismissal on the grounds of ethnic or national origin. Initially, it will be up to the employee to show facts that create a presumption of discrimination. That was the issue before the Danish Board of Equal Treatment in this case.

The case concerned a lecturer of German origin who was employed by a Danish university. The lecturer had been resident in Denmark at the start of the employment relationship, but had since moved back to Germany. The lecturer therefore had a special agreement with the university that she could work from home in Germany three days a week.

After cutbacks and a reduction in the number of staff, the faculty management decided to emphasise the fact that staff had a duty to be present during working hours. In the future, employees wishing to work more than one day per week from home had to make an agreement in this regard with their direct manager.

As a result, the German resident lecturer was given notice of termination of the agreement on homeworking days.

The lecturer would not accept the amendment to the agreement and her employment was therefore terminated. The lecturer subsequently complained to the Board of Equal Treatment, alleging discrimination on grounds of ethnic or national origin.

No presumption of discrimination
The Board of Equal Treatment awarded in favour of the university. The Board found that the requirement for attendance at the workplace affected all employees equally regardless of ethnic origin and that the requirement was not enforced in a less favourable way for the lecturer than for the other employees. It was a neutral requirement that did not disadvantage people of a particular ethnic or national origin.

The Board concluded that the lecturer had thus failed to establish any facts indicating that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of national or ethnic origin.

Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that with its finding that the requirement in question was neutral and did not place people of a particular ethnic or national origin at a disadvantage, the Board of Equal Treatment held that there was no indirect discrimination on the grounds of national or ethnic origin in this case, because it was the employee’s choice of residence, and not her origin, that gave rise to the situation that led to the termination of the employment relationship.

The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.

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