Sat, Aug. 01, 2015

Reference to Retirement in Termination Notice

CK - Washington.   A small business termi­nated an employee and noted in the notice of ter­mination her eli­gibi­lity for retire­ment bene­fits. This refe­rence consti­tutes age dis­crimi­nation, the German Supreme Court for Employ­ment Matters, Bundesarbeits­gericht, ruled in a deci­sion on July 23, 2015. The docket number is 6 AZR 457/14. Presently, the court has published only a press release which is available online. The notice of termination is void because it violates the non-discrimination statute, §7(1) AGG, the court held in contrast to the lower courts.

Thu, Apr. 30, 2015

Supreme Decision on Print, TV and App

CK - Washington.   While it has many private broadcasters, the German broadcasting market is dominated by a few public stations financed through a media-user fee levied on households. With the advent of the internet, the private media and print press cast a scronful eye on the public broadcasters and lobbied for a statutory prohibition on their competition in applications and internet publications. As a result, the telemedia statute for broadcasters includes restrictions governing, among others, (a) time limits during which over-the-air and cable broadcasts may be made available in apps and websites, and (b) content which may include, in addition to broadcast content, only material related to such content. The latter provision in sections 11d, 11f RStV prevents public broadcasters from intrusions into content areas traditionally held by the print media.

On April 30, 2015, the German Supreme Court for Civil Matters, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe decided a dispute between the print and public broadcast media. The print media had claimed a violation of competition law by the public broadcasters which had allegedly bust through their content borders. The defendants argued, however, that (a) their content plans are subject to a three-step review process under the statute, and (b) their plans had gained the approval of the reviewing body.

In the matter known as Tagesschau-App, docket number I ZR 13/14, the court held that the approval of a plan is not a sufficient defense against the plaintiffs' allegations; the lower court must determine also whether the implementation of the plan conforms with the statute. In addition, the court agreed with the plaintiffs that a violation of the telemedia statute can constitute a qualifying violation of law under the German competition statute.

Fri, Mar. 27, 2015

Privacy Rights of Co-Pilot and Family

CK - Washington.   Unlike American media, German media do not mention the full name of the co-pilot presumed to have killed 149 trusting passengers and himself in the French alps. Why? Privacy laws.

Personality rights, not data protection laws, govern the mention of persons in the media. These rights are balanced against constitutional guarantees of free speech and press freedom, Art. 5 Grundgesetz = Basic Law, which also outlaws censorship.

A deceased person's personality rights expire with the person's passing. Relatives may invoke this right, however, to suppress gross distortions of the deceased person's reputation. Based on ample precedent, the media need not consider his identity taboo when the person made himself and his life a matter of public interest. The facts alleged today indicate that this exception would apply.

The surviving family and friends can rely on their own privacy rights as well as data protection laws against unwanted intrusions. They are entitled to anonymity. By stating the full name of the co-pilot, the media may knowingly reveal the identity of family and friends and, therefore, become liable for damages. The same rules likely apply to the victims.

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