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Case study

 

Anna Demeneva, lawyer, Human Rights NGO Sutyajnik

The relevant national legislation.  The Labour Code of the Russian Federation provides for the equal financial compensation for the same work for employees.  The Labour Code of the Russian Federation with the reference to International Law (in particular, Conventions of International Law Organization) prohibits any form of discrimination in labour relations on any ground.

 

The essence of the problem. Act of the Russian Government (which was still in force since 1981) regulating additional financial compensation for the additional work, provided for the additional financial compensation only for ordinary employees.  It excluded heads of departments and other structural subdivisions of organization (middle managers) from the list of employees who are entitled for the additional payment for the additional work. In practice middle managers have to do some kinds of additional work rather often in order to ensure the proper implementation of work of the structural subdivisions they are in head of (for example, in case if the department is understaffed). If the ordinary employee do such additional  work, he/she is entitled for additional  compensation, but if the middle manager do such work, the additional compensation is directly prohibited by the above-mentioned Act.  This legislative provision is some kind if discrimination on the ground of position of employee in the organization and the category of employee discriminated is (surprisingly) middle management.

Facts of the case. Our client, Mr. Ponyatovsky, is the Head of the Legal Department at the Ural State Medical Academy. There are in fact 5 subordinate lawyers in the Legal Department  and two positions are vacant.  In order to ensure proper activity of the whole Department, Mr. Ponyatovsly have to overwork to implement work for non-hired staff. As a Head of the Department he is not entitled to get compensation for the additional work, according to the above-mentioned Act of Government.

Procedural steps and developments in the case, the legal strategies that were considered.    We usually consider two main strategies in order to deal with cases. It depends on the source of the problem in the case:

-unlawful (and discriminatory) actions; or

-unlawful discriminatory provisions of legislation

 

As in this particular case Mr. Ponyatovsky was refused to additional compensation according to the Act of  Government, we considered the Act of government as a source of the problem and applied to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in order to terminate discriminatory provision.

 

The first instance of the Supreme Court rejected the complaint in December 2002. The ground was that such limitations are reasonable and contain the aim to ensure the proper and honest execution of managers obligations without his/her intention to get additional work and additional payment for it. Moreover, the salary of manager is higher than the salary of ordinaru employee, that is why managers are fully responsible for the work of the subdivision even though the subdivision is understaffed.

We appealed against this decision, and 25 March 2003 the cassational instance of the Supreme court passed a new judgment and admitted that there was a violation of the applicants rights to equal salary for the same work, and overruled the discriminatory provision.

 

The result of the case is the protection of labour rights of middle managers. The discriminatory provision which violated managers rights during 22 years,  was overruled.  

 

NGO support of the case. NGO Sutyajnik provided free legal aid in this case (the legal representation of the applicant, consultations Anna Demeneva, lawyer of Sutyajnik) and media coverage (interviews, legal review of the case for information agencies and legal newspapers and journals).

 
 
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