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Does a job application whose intention is to seek compensation for discrimination, rather than to actually get the job, fall within the scope of the Equal Treatment Directive and related Framework Directive (the Directives)?
R + V Allgemeine Versicherung AG (AV), a German company, advertised graduate trainee jobs. The graduates were required to have specified work experience and a good university degree in one of a few specified fields, including in law. The degree must have been completed within the last year or be due to be completed in the coming months.
Mr Kratzer, a qualified lawyer and former manager with an insurance company applied for a graduate trainee legal position. His application received an automatically generated rejection as he was not a recent graduate. He complained demanding €14,000 compensation for age discrimination.
AV apologised for their automatically generated rejection and invited him to interview. Mr Kratzer claimed age discrimination and additionally sex discrimination as he discovered that AV had employed only four female trainees, despite the genders of the 60+ applicants being evenly split;. The German court stayed the proceedings and referred the following questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ):
Do the Directives provide protection against discrimination to an individual whose application makes it clear that they are not seeking recruitment or employment, but just the status of a job applicant in order to bring a claim for compensation?
If so, should this be considered an abuse of rights under EU law?
The ECJ's decision
The ECJ confirmed that the purpose of the Directives is to protect those seeking employment or already in employment. An individual who submits a job application with the sole purpose of seeking compensation for discrimination does not benefit from the protection provided by the Directives. They are not entitled to claim its protection or compensation.
Individuals applying for jobs with the sole purpose of bringing a claim for compensation are unusual, but it does happen. All applications should be assessed fairly and objectively. While this case provides reassurance that spurious claimants, seeking only compensation, may be rejected by the courts, it doe highlight the potential danger of automated responses.
In this case, Mr Kratzer's vexatious and compensation-driven claim was identified by AV inviting Mr Kratzer to an interview which he refused.