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Appeal court finds in favour of radio presenter fired for playing Bond theme

The Court of Appeal rules that summary dismissal of presenter was unwarranted.

The case concerned a journalist presenter at Radio Classic, run by GBTIMES Ltd, who was fired for playing music not on the designated track list, including the James Bond theme. On the occasion in question the broadcast had ended with an undesignated play list of ten pieces that had delayed the newscast. A few days later the presenter was sacked.

In justifying its action, the employer alleged that the presenter had also been guilty of various other misdemeanors. These included coming to the workplace without permission, making specious entries in the record of working hours and acting inappropriately in requesting time off. But UJF lawyer Jussi Salokangas points out that these reasons were only given once the case had come to court.

“The channel had earlier relied on the point that the classic James Bond pieces were heavy music and so jeopardized the company’s license. The grounds for dismissal shifted once the case went to court following arbitration. Suddenly, the company cited inappropriate behaviour, working time records and other issues that were not mentioned at all in the dismissal,” said Salokangas.

The case first went to the district court, which found in favour of the company and ordered the presenter to pay compensation to the employer, as it had filed a counterclaim against the presenter. This ruling was overturned on appeal.

The case revealed that there were no clear guidelines on when extra play lists can be used and what play lists should be used. The presenter claimed that the late running of the newscast had been an accident, a view the appeal court did not accept. But the court did not deem the behaviour of the presenter to have justified his being dismissed.

The appeal court ordered the company to pay the presenter €17 000 in compensation for annulling the presenter’s work agreement without due cause. The company will decide whether to take the matter further by appealing to the Supreme Court.