PUBLISHED BY Arlati Ghislandi
The mere reference to a staff reduction procedure does not justify the dismissal of a manager

It is unlawful to fire a manager whose reasons were merely traced back by the employer to the opening of a staff reduction procedure.


With sentence no. 20876 of 21 August 2018, the Court of Cassation specified that the dismissal of a worker with managerial qualifications may be based on i) the loss of the relationship of trust as well as ii) objective reasons relating to the company organisation. The dismissal of a manager is therefore also allowed when a employer considers it excessively onerous to continue with the employment relationship. In fact, ‘the principle of good faith and fairness which constitutes the parameter on which to measure the legitimacy of dismissal, must be coordinated with the freedom of economic initiative guaranteed by article 41 of the Italian Constitution’.


Therefore, if it is illegitimate to fire a manager in situations where the employer only justifies it with the mere indication of the opening (and conclusion) of a staff reduction procedure (which did not involve the dismissed manager) pursuant to Law no. 223 of 23 July 1991, otherwise it could argued that the dismissal, in addition to referring to the need for a staff reduction, mentions the need to reduce costs and staff numbers which, in this specific case, became necessary because of the unsatisfactory results in the last two years, both of a managerial and economic nature (and detailed both in the prior notice of activation of the procedure referred to in Law no. 223 of 23 July 1991 and in the agreement reached with trade unions). 


In the opinion of the Supreme Court, the legitimacy of the dismissal of the manager must be verified by ascertaining whether the reasons for the dismissal actually existed and actually involved the position of the manager dismissed.