La Poste, advised by CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats in its litigation on the principle of equal treatment, obtained the rulings of the Court of Cassation of 4 April 2018
CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats was counsel for La Poste in the litigation on an item of remuneration called “Poste Add-on”, introduced by the public company at the start of the 1990s following its change of status and which had then authorised it – notably – to employ private-law employees alongside public servants.
In order to promote a fair policy of remuneration for all of its employees and to simplify a remuneration system stemming from the central administration, La Poste axed around fifty bonuses and payments received by the public servants due to responsibilities and constraints that they took on earlier, and incorporated them under a single additional payment: the “Poste Add-on”.
On identifying the level of duties and performance of the position, all the staff – irrespective of being under private or public law – recruited afterwards then received a supplement of the same amount. However, differences continued to exist with a small proportion of state employees recruited between 1970-1980, who received an amount above the Poste Add-on due to the history of their individual careers.
Litigation followed on the basis of the “equal pay for equal work” principle.
Some unions requested the collective adjustment of wages. La Poste, in cases argued by CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats, obtained the setting aside of all the group actions (Paris Regional Court, 4 February 2014; Paris Regional Court, 10 March 2015; Paris Court of Appeal, 18 June 2015; Paris Court of Appeal, 14 April 2016; Court of Cassation Social Division, 14 February 2018)
Individual applications for adjustment were also brought before labour courts in a particularly sustained serial litigation and having given rise to thousands of proceedings.
The Court of Cassation has gradually drawn up its case law, and this until the rulings handed down on 4 April 2018 themselves intended for wider publication (P+B+R+I), and an explanatory note from the Court.
Through these rulings the Court of Cassation recalled and specified the conditions for applying the principle of “equal pay for equal work”: it is up to the party who introduces an action on the principle of equal treatment to show that he is in an identical or similar situation to the person to whom he compares himself.
In this particular case, it is therefore up to each employee to show that he carries out identical or similar duties to those of the state employee to whom he compares himself: if he fails to show this similarity of duties, the application must be set aside.
Furthermore, the social division approved the lower courts having set aside the applications of the employees who compared themselves to a state employee who exercised like them identical or similar duties of postman/postwoman, but who, unlike the employees, had occupied positions that through their diversity and nature, conferred on them a better job performance.
La Poste was advised by Laurent Marquet de Vasselot, partner, and Vincent Duval, lawyer.
CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats has therefore once again shown its great expertise, its capacity to develop an innovative line of reasoning, and its ability to assist its clients in major risk litigation both socially and financially.