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Appeal court rules MTV journalist’s dismissal unfair

The Helsinki Court of Appeal has ruled that MTV, the commercial broadcaster, was wrong in firing a sport news journalist in 2013 on the grounds of operational rearrangement. The court has ordered the company to pay the journalist €50 000 in compensation.

The journalist was under permanent contract to MTV Sisällöt Ltd until 2013. The journalist was dismissed on the grounds of a restructuring of financial, production, and operational arrangements. MTV started subcontracting all its sport news and special sport broadcasting.

The District Court had earlier dismissed the journalist’s claim of unfair dismissal. But the Court of Appeal that the work of the subcontractors replacing the journalist was extremely close to that of contracted employees, and that therefore no legitimate justification was created terminating the employment contract of the journalist concerned. The Court of Appeal did not consider the rearrangement of the work to be either genuine or permanent.

The ruling concerns how subcontracting is carried out, explained UJF head of advocacy Petri Savolainen.

“A typical situation is when a factory shifts production to China. That’s legal. Now you have people filling the same places as people who have been fired and doing the same work on the same premises but as self-employed workers. The need for work hasn’t diminished. And what’s key is that the arrangement isn’t permanent.”

Savolainen points out that there is a loyalty obligation between the employer and the employee in a contractual employment relationship.

“This was taken into account in the amount of compensation awarded. The Court of Appeal ruled that MTV would have been able to manage the continuation of the work relationship ”

MTV Sisällöt Ltd will pay the legal expenses of EUR 38,000 for the UJF and its own costs, in addition to the €50,000 compensation.

“I hope the sums involved have some preventive effect,” Savolainen remarked.