02 Jan Driving instructor wrongly summarily dismissed for sending messages to students
Driving instructor wrongly summarily dismissed for sending messages to students
The driving instructor had been employed by a driving school as a driving instructor since Oct. 19, 2016. On July 4, 2019, the driving school received a complaint from a former student about this driving instructor. This complaint involved her being asked out in the car, and over the phone, by the driving instructor, after which he also indicated he wanted to sleep with the student. For this reason, the driving instructor received an official written warning on July 5, 2019. On May 13, 2021, the driving school again received complaints about this driving instructor. A mother of a student reported that the instructor made inappropriate comments toward her daughter. This prompted the driving school to summarily dismiss the driving instructor on Nov. 19, 2021. The stated reason for dismissal involved the driving instructor making personal advances to students, even though he had previously been warned about this.
After the driving instructor was subsequently admitted to a mental health facility for some time, he asked the court to overturn the instant dismissal.
According to the district judge, seeking personal advances toward an underage student could not justify summary dismissal.
The district judge considered that the driving instructor repeatedly approached younger students through instant messages, even though those messages were not related to the driving lessons. Often this happened at night and on weekends. This, despite having already been warned about such behavior in 2019. In particular, the messages in which the driving instructor asked about students’ alcohol consumption and dating behavior were deemed inadmissible by the district judge. Given the dependency relationship and the age difference, these messages are contrary to the integrity expected of a driving instructor.
It is true that the driving instructor’s Whatsapp messages were not appropriate in the relationship between a driving instructor and a student. Nevertheless, the district judge ruled that this inappropriate behavior did not qualify as acting in the most serious category. That judgment was based on the following circumstances: it could not be assumed that the instructor had actually made advances to meet up; nor was there any evidence that sexually oriented messages had been sent; nor did the driving instructor ever meet with students outside working hours. The district judge also took into consideration that it is not uncommon within the culture of driving schools to deal amicably with students. Furthermore, the subdistrict court weighed the foregoing against the driving instructor’s personal circumstances, which included that he had five years of service with the employer; the employer was satisfied with this driving instructor; moreover, the driving instructor was psychologically unwell at the time of the dismissal, where he was also confronted with the far-reaching consequences that the dismissal had on his personal life. Among other things, he was admitted to a mental health facility because of suicidal thoughts.
Although the summary dismissal was not upheld due to the aforementioned, the employment contract was dissolved due to culpable actions of the driving instructor. The driving instructor is entitled to the transitional compensation of EUR 3,391.41 gross.
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