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"Process has made visible that gender is enforced in subtle or ruthless ways"

“We would strongly advise the plaintiff to accept the proposed settlement.

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"Process has made visible that gender is enforced in subtle or ruthless ways"

“We would strongly advise the plaintiff to accept the proposed settlement. Emphatically. We can't say any more than that," said labor judge David Poguntke, summarizing the state of conviction of his chamber after the hearing at the Bonn Labor Court. He doesn't have to say more: if a court issues such a clear recommendation, it is clear that its judgment will not be in favor of the plaintiff.

So Klaus Roggenthin accepts the settlement, which, of course, also amounts to a defeat: his employer, the Federal Working Group for Criminal Aid (BAG-S), has given notice of termination on September 30; until then Roggenthin is free.

Numerous journalists had traveled to the procedure, which WELT had first reported on. The BAG-S justified Roggenthin's dismissal - after eleven years of service and eight months before his retirement - with the fact that he refused to implement the obligation to use gender language decided by the board of directors.

The defendant's attorney in court does not want to know anything more about this, explaining during the course of the hearing: "It was not a dismissal because of gender. Again in public and for the press: It has nothing to do with gendering.” That sounded different in the defendant’s pleading: there the refusal to implement the board resolution on gendering was given as “another plausible reason” for the termination designated.

But from the point of view of the court, it is ultimately not important because there are other reasons that could justify the dismissal. The fact that the plaintiff missed appointments, made mistakes in housekeeping or otherwise did poor work was alleged by the BAG-S “not exactly substantiated”. But ultimately, from the point of view of the court, it is enough that the relationship between Roggenthin and the club's board of directors has deteriorated significantly in recent years, so that a trusting cooperation is no longer possible.

“It is of course true that there was tension between me and the board; but they always followed from my attitude that I don't want to be forced to change texts in which I appear as the author myself," says Roggenthin. Exactly from the question that the court finds "legally interesting" but does not consider relevant to the decision.

The extremely lax standard that a bad atmosphere between employer and employee can justify the dismissal regardless of who originates this atmosphere and what (legitimate) interests it is based on has to do with a special feature of the case: The BAG-S is a small business with fewer than eleven employees.

Because such small teams are particularly dependent on internal cohesion and smooth cooperation, the Employment Protection Act does not apply there. Rude or unfaithful terminations are also prohibited there, but below this limit the employer has a free hand. "That's just the principle: my nose doesn't fit me," Judge Poguntke summarizes the legal situation.

So Roggenthin lays down his arms. "Of course I'm not satisfied with the result, but I'm also not a martyr who will continue to carry the cross for five years," he said after the WELT hearing. The fact that the BAG-S had otherwise threatened to issue a second, now extraordinary termination, may also have played a role in the decision, because it believes Roggenthin had allegedly given confidential procedural files to the press.

The signal is clear: If he doesn't back down here, the next procedure will follow - with corresponding costs and possible effects on his entitlement to unemployment benefits.

Roggenthin can still see one good thing in the matter: "The positive thing about this process is that it has made it clear that gender is by no means always voluntary, as is often claimed, but that it is enforced in a subtle or even rabid way."

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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