News - Germany

Germany - September 2012

Time limit to claim damages for discrimination

The General Act on Equal Treatment (German "Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz"/"AGG") specifies a two month time-limit set out (in section 15 clause. 4 of the "AGG") for bringing a claim for damages for discrimination. If a claim arises from an application for employment, the time-limit starts as soon as the applicant learns about the discrimination.

In November 2007, the defendant placed a job advertisement looking for motivated employees between the ages of 18 to 35 for her "young team in the city centre". The plaintiff, at that time 41 years old, applied for the job including completed personal details. On 19 November 2007, her application was rejected by telephone. On 29 January 2008, the plaintiff filed a claim demanding compensation as well as the reimbursement of application expenses and costs of the proceedings.

As in the lower courts, the claim did not succeed before the Eighth Senate of the German Federal Labour Court, either. The higher labour court asked the European Court of Justice to decide if the two month time-limit for bringing the claim was compatible with European law. The Senate has now confirmed this and clarified that claims for damages based on other legislation also have to be filed within the two month time-limit set out (in section 15 clause 4 of the “AGG”), if they refer to discrimination allegations due to criteria mentioned in the "AGG". After the plaintiff had learned about the discrimination through the rejection on 19 November 2007, her claim, which was received by the labour court on 29 January 2008, did not fall within the two month time-limit set out in section 15 clause 4 of the "AGG".

Resources

German Federal Labour Court, judgment of 21 June 2012, reference number: 8 AZR 188/11

Lower court: Higher Labour Court of Hamburg, judgment of 27 October 2010, reference number: 5 Sa 3/09

For further information or to discuss any of the issues raised, please contact Stefanie Andrelang on +49 (0)89 2422300.