Italian Court of Cassation, Labour Section, dec. No. 31071, 2 November 2021
The Italian Court of Cassation recently ruled on a dispute concerning the non-renewal by a Catholic school of a teacher's employment contract because of her sexual orientation.
On the basis of the freedom of organization and teaching guaranteed by the Concordat to parish schools, the plaintiff argued that the non-renewal of the teacher's contract was legitimate because her sexual orientation constituted a breach of the obligation to be faithful to School ethics.
However, the court of legitimacy stated that, in selecting teachers, religious schools cannot discriminate against candidates on the basis of their sexual orientation. Therefore, parish schools cannot make being heterosexual a requisite for recruitment, discarding applications from homosexuals.
The Court of Cassation also confirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal on the claim for damages, claiming that compensation for non-pecuniary damage (as a measure provided for by Article 28(5) of Legislative Decree no. 150 of 2011) for all types of discrimination, including collective discrimination, must be paid in an amount proportionate to the seriousness of the discrimination and in such a way as to make the penalty effective and dissuasive, in accordance with Article 15 of Directive 2000/43. Civil liability has not only the function of restoring the financial position of the injured party but also an inherent function of deterrence and sanction.
(Comment by Nadia Spadaro)