The man, a chief waiter on a private yacht, was fired during the COVID-19 pandemic ban period. His claim was upheld by the first instance judge, which established that the plaintiff had to be reintegrated in his employment and compensated for the damages suffered.
At the end of September 2020, a man working as chief waiter on a private yacht was fired. Then, he challenged his employment termination on the grounds that no motivation was indicated in the notice and that it occurred at a time when dismissal for objective reasons was not possible due to emergency regulations. Indeed, with Legislative Decree No. 18/2020, the Italian government had established that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, firing employees for economic reasons was prohibited under penalty of nullity.
The man’s claim was upheld by the first instance judge – the Court of Lucca –, which established that the plaintiff had to be reintegrated in his employment and compensated for the damages suffered.
The employer – a single-member company – opposed such a decision on the merits, claiming that the man was fired due to a serious breach of his contract, as he hadn’t shown up to work for two weeks without justification. Moreover, he argued that the emergency rules couldn’t be applied in the first place, since the employment relationship was non-commercial and, therefore, fell under the discipline of domestic labour, which is excluded from the scope of Decree No. 18/2020.
With decision No. 454/2023 the Court of Appeal of Florence decided on the matter. First, it claimed that the latter reason was unfounded: being the employer a company, the domestic labour discipline couldn’t be applied. Therefore, the employee had been fired during the ban period established by the Decree No. 18/2020. For the dismissal to be void, however, the employee had to prove that it occurred for objective reasons, which cannot be determined by the sole fact that the notice lacked motivation. Indeed, the lack of motivation is still a relevant defect, but its sole consequence, in this case, is the possibility of being compensated. For this reasons, the Court of Florence annulled the reinstatement order but condemned the employer to compensate the former employee with an amount of money equal to 6 months' wage.