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Termination without notice due to threats against supervisor

If an employee credibly announces to a colleague that he intends to throw his superior out of the window and that he is about to go on a rampage, this may justify termination without notice. This was recently decided by the Siegburg Labor Court.


The plaintiff had been employed in the accounting department of the defendant city for over 13 years. After a dispute with his supervisor, the plaintiff said to a colleague: "I'm going to throw this little runt out of the window. I'm not going to put up with this any longer. I'm about to go on a rampage. I'm telling you, something will happen soon. He lives dangerously, very dangerously."

The employer terminated the plaintiff's employment without notice on December 28, 2020, or alternatively with notice effective June 30, 2021. The plaintiff filed an action for protection against dismissal.

Reasons for the decision

In its ruling of November 4, 2021 (5 Ca 254/21), the Siegburg Labor Court dismissed the action. The termination without notice was justified after hearing the colleague as a witness. In the opinion of the court, the important reason for termination was that the plaintiff had made statements to his colleague in a serious manner that included both the announcement of a threat to both body and life of the supervisor and the announcement of a rampage. The court was convinced that the plaintiff had meant the threat absolutely seriously. A prior warning was unnecessary in such cases. Moreover, the employer could not be expected to continue employing the plaintiff until the end of the ordinary notice period.

The decision is not yet final.

Note for practice

The decision of the Siegburg Labor Court is in line with the Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht - BAG). In 2017, the BAG ruled that the employee's serious threat of danger to the life or body of the employer, superiors and/or work colleagues, for which there is no general justification, constitutes a significant breach of the employee's secondary obligation under Section 241 (2) of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch - BGB). According to this, the employee must take into account the legitimate interests of the employer. Such a serious threat could justify termination without notice. Such a threat exists if the statement, according to its carefully determined explanatory content, is objectively suited to create the impression of seriousness in a "normally" perceiving person, and the intention of the threatening person is such that the addressee takes the threat seriously. It is not decisive whether the threatening party is able or willing to realize his announcement (cf. BAG 29.6.2017 - 2 AZR 47/16).

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