KKO 1995:152

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The issue here was whether the employer was allowed to lay off an employee returning from maternity leave due to a change of duties. During Ms. Mari Karjanoja's maternity and parental leave, her duties as a product manager had changed as a result of the company restructuring, and the employment relationship of her substitute, Ms. Tuulia Pärkö, had been made permanent. When Ms. Karjanoja returned from maternity leave, she was not offered back her duties as a product manager as the employer regarded Ms. Pärkö to be better qualified to take care of such duties in the changed situation. Later, for financial and production related grounds, the employer laid off Ms. Karjanoja. Section 34 h of the Old Finnish Employment Contracts Act (320/1970, as amended) (the "Old Employment Contracts Act") prevented the displacement of an employee returning from maternity and parental leave on the basis that a substitute to the employee would be able to carry out the work duties better than the employee. Therefore, the Supreme Court considered that the employer should have offered Ms. Karjanoja the changed work duties of the product manager which were comparable to her previous duties. Since the ground of Ms. Karjanoja's termination was the employer acting against Section 34 h of the above-mentioned Old Employment Contracts Act, the employer did not have sufficient grounds for the termination. On these grounds, the Supreme Court, upholding the decisions of the District Court and the Court of Appeal, ordered the employer to pay damages to Ms. Karjanoja.




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