ČESKÝ HELSINSKÝ VÝBOR CZECH HELSINKI COMMITTEE
organizace pro lidská práva
Human Rights Organization _________________________________________________________________________
Employment of Foreigners at Radio Free Europe
Czech Helsinki Committee criticizes the ongoing practice of Radio Free Europe which offers to job applicants the employment agreements containing discriminative and deceptive clause; and is concerned that the Czech courts did not provide effective protection to women who suffered injustice.
Two former employees of the Radio, the Croatian citizen Snjezana Pelivan and Armenian citizen Anna Karapetian, contacted the Czech Helsinki Committee. Both have similar cases. Both women had concluded with Radio Free Europe employment agreements containing the clause about choice of American law as the governing law. Labor relations of both women were terminated by employer without providing any reason. Both of them had sought the court protection. In case of Snjezana Pelivan, the courts did not satisfy the request to declare her termination invalid; this is the reason why Mrs. Pelivan has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. Mrs. Karapetian in her court application sought the decision rendering her employment termination invalid and, in particular, declaring the invalidity of the clause concerning the choice of law. The courts of the first and second levels rejected her request; however, the Supreme Court cancelled the decision of two lower courts and returned her case to the Court of first level. In November 2010, that Court satisfied her request to declare the termination invalid and did so due to invalidity of the choice of law clause. The Court of Appeals did not share the position taken by the lower court, changed its decision and rejected the plaintiff’s claim. Now the case will be again considered by the Supreme Court.
The problem was created due to the single reason. The actions of employer (RFE/RL) are such that labor agreements with Czech citizens are concluded according to the Czech law and labor relations with American citizens are governed by U.S. laws. Employment agreements with foreigners include the clause about choice of American laws. In fact, however, the American labor law is inapplicable to labor agreements with foreigners because such employees may request the protection provided by American laws only if they work at the territory of the United States of America; protection abroad is provided on condition that employee is an American citizen. In this respect, legal protection of RFE/RL employees with foreign citizenship is significantly reduced or totally excluded.
In our opinion, in such cases of inapplicability of the chosen law, the Czech courts had to extend to employees the protection in accordance with Czech labor law regulations. Simultaneously, we consider the practice of Radio Free Europe as immoral. Particularly, in view of the fact that employees are not informed by the employer about inapplicability of American laws to their labor relations.
From the point of view of international law, the RFE/RL practice described above may be considered as contradicting the fundamental principle of unconditional application of the law of that state on whose territory employment agreement is concluded, except the relations with international element. In this case, however, in accordance with principles of international law, despite the international element is present physically, in the nature of things, it is necessary to treat Radio Free Europe as a Czech employer being a subject to Czech law, and provide effective protection to the women who suffered injustice.
In Prague, 4 June 2012
Contact: Anna Sabatova, Chairwoman, Tel# (+420) 606 636 016
Contact: Michaela Tejnorova, attorney-at-law, Tel#(+420) 777 220 503 (cell), 220 515 223
(translation from Czech): HYPERLINK “http://www.helcom.cz/view.php?cisloclanku=2012060501” http://www.helcom.cz/view.php?cisloclanku=2012060501