JM Barjola – A discharge due to stress and anxiety is not incompatible with participating in activities to raise one’s spirits, even when these involve competing in a professional championship at the national level. A recent ruling of the Extremadura High Court of Justice has established this, confirming the inappropriateness of the dismissal of an administrative employee on leave due to stress and anxiety for participating in a professional bodybuilding championship. The ruling, published on July 30, 2019, is available at this link.
The company communicated the disciplinary dismissal to the employee, who was on leave for four months due to a depressive picture of stress and anxiety, ensuring that he was committing fraud and a situation of abuse of business confidence when participating in the Spanish National Cup Bodybuilding and Fitness. The employee was runner-up in the Bodybuilding Master 40 modality of more than 90 kg.
The dismissal letter alleged that “one thing is the practice of regular sport, which can be, in your case, beneficial,” and another that you compete “professionally” as did the employee on leave. According to the company’s defense, something requires a “demanding constant physical and mental activity” incompatible according to them with depression.
Thus, the letter pointed out that participation in such an event “demonstrates that you are not really mentally ill and can work in our company, or that you are really ill and suffer from stress or anxiety, participation in the championship it will mean that his recovery will be much longer.”
The sentence rejects the company’s arguments and agrees with the plaintiff, considering that practicing bodybuilding, far from proof that you are faking depression, is a valid therapy that helps the worker overcome their problems. Proof of this, the ruling argues, is the expert report presented by the worker, where a psychologist confirms that participating in a bodybuilding championship, “far from being harmful to the treatment of his stress and anxiety problem, was psychically beneficial to him.”
Therefore, it cannot be deduced, explains the court, that participating in a bodybuilding championship means having already overcome the depression that caused the drop. And in this sense, the ruling recalls that “carrying out activities in situations of sick leave does not automatically constitute a grave offense punishable by dismissal.”
Thus, the court concludes that the company must choose between the employee’s reinstatement under the same conditions or payment of compensation. In this case, 6,024.99 euros, an amount that had been set by the court ruling, which the TSJ now confirms.
The case of the amateur theater group
The Extremadura Superior Court of Justice’s resolution fails in the same sense as another recent judgment of the Social Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of Castilla y León dated June 30, 2019, available here.
The worker is agreed in a similar case, although not in the sports field; This time, the company alleged a false stress situation for participating in an amateur theater group and defends the dismissal’s origin. However, clenbuterol musculation, the court agrees with the worker and repeats, like the TSJ of Extremadura, that this type of activity, far from being incompatible with the loss, is a therapy that helps workers who suffer these problems.
The company alleged that the City of Palencia had hired the group to carry out animated guided tours. The judge refuses to consider this fact as an argument since there is no evidence that the employee received any remuneration for the activity carried out. Although occasionally receiving travel allowances, participating in a theater group at this level, the court concludes, is not a parallel job for termination.