The Danish Western High Court held that it was unfair to summarily dismiss a taxi driver who failed to show up for work because he had been given the impression that he would not be sanctioned by the employer.
If an employee is in material breach of the employment contract, this may result in summary dismissal. In this case, the issue before the Western High Court was whether a taxi owner was justified in summarily dismissing one of his taxi drivers who had failed to show up for two shifts.
The case concerned a taxi driver whose normal task was to service the contract with the municipality, but now he had agreed to work a few extra weekend shifts because of the Christmas party weekend. On realising that he would not be picked up at his home on Friday, 11 December – a requirement he had expressed – he decided not to show up for work. The next day, the taxi driver had a telephone conversation with the taxi owner. It is unclear what was said during the conversation, but in any case the taxi driver did not show up for work on Saturday, 12 December, either.
On 13 December, the plan showing next week's shifts was sent to the taxi driver, and the plan had him working the following weekend. The taxi driver texted the taxi owner that he thought he would no longer be working weekends. The taxi owner replied: "… you will be deleted from the Friday and Saturday evening shifts, so you just do your municipal shift". On 14 December he was summarily dismissed.
Before the High Court, the taxi owner argued that the driver was not entitled to be picked up from his home, that he had received a warning over the telephone Saturday and that – even if he had received no such warning – the owner was justified in summarily dismissing him for failure to show.
In the High Court's opinion, the taxi driver's failure to show was unjustified and sufficient to warrant a summary dismissal. However, the High Court also held that the wording of the text sent by the taxi owner on 13 December had given the driver a legitimate expectation that his failure to show up for his shifts on 11 and 12 December would not result in summary dismissal. On those grounds, the taxi owner was ordered to pay salary in the notice period and compensation for unfair summary dismissal.
The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.
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