The International Court of Human Rights convicted Greece because the Greek judicial system accepted as legal the dismissal of an ill employee carrying the HIV virus.
According to the decision, the dismissal consitutes discrimination and impinges upon the employee’s private and family life who is looking at a compensation. The court in Strasbourg pointed out that the Greek judicial system acted on the faulty perception that there was a danger of transmitting the disease.
The employer had dismissed the employee after peer pressure, the rationale being that that would safeguard harmonious cooperation amongst the employees.
This argumentation was accepted by the court of appeals and ratified by the Supreme Court.
The International Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg judged that the Greek courts acquitted the employer on the false assumption that there was a danger of transmitting the disease.
It also judged that the dismissal is opposed to the Covenant for Human Rights and indicted Greece as much for the dereliction of the ordinances that prohibit discrimination, as for the infringement upon the right to protect private and family life.
It obliges Greece to pay 14.340 euros to the employee for moral and material damage.
The history of the case
The man who won the case in Strasbourg was working since 2001 in a jewellery-making bussiness employing 70 people in total. In 2005 he made known to three colleagues of his that he had been positive with HIV. After the revelation, 33 co-workers sent a letter to the company owner, asking him to dismiss the ill employee in order to safeguard their health.
Despite the attempts on the part of the employer who called in specialists to explain that there was no danger of transmitting the disease, the workers insisted on their view and the employee was fired.
In the Greek courts, the dismissal was judged illegal in the first instance, but the Court of Appeals acquitted the employer, and the decision was ratified by the Supreme Court on 17 March 2009.
The rationale was that ‘interrupting the contract is not illegal, given that it is justified in view of the employer’s interest in restoring the harmonious cooperation between the employees and the orderly operation of the company’.
Article translated from on ‘in.gr’ news website, published 3 October 2013: http://news.in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1231267754.