Court of Cassation, Labour Section, No. 26710 of 1 October 2021
The conduct of the employee, who clearly infringes the principles of fairness and good faith by falsifying, on two occasions, the signatures affixed by customers on forms relating to the definition of financial transactions, must be classified as serious. This was established by the Court of Cassation in its Order No. 26710 of 1 October 2021, in which it rejected the recourse filed by the employee and confirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal. On the merits, as a result of an in-depth examination of the evidence, it emerged that the employee had committed serious irregularities, which had been detected by the inspection service in the context of supervisory activities. They consisted in the apposition by the applicant of forged signatures of two customers during a series of transactions concerning the withdrawal of the application for a loan of one fifth of the salary and the subscription of shares. They consisted in the apposition by the applicant of forged signatures of two customers, in the course of various transactions concerning the withdrawal of the application for a one-fifth salary financing and the subscription of shares. This conduct of falsification – the appeal judges had rules – breached the duties of fairness inherent to the employment obligation, betraying an unscrupulous attitude, carried out in deliberate violation of the rules that govern and structure the employment relationship, in conscious breach of the trust relationship with the employer and the customers. These conclusions were considered correct by the Supreme Court, which held that the Court of Appeal had followed the case-law principles on the assessment of the lawfulness of disciplinary dismissal, proceeding to a thorough examination of the evidence. On this point, the Supreme Court recalls that “the assessment as to the lawfulness of the disciplinary dismissal must be developed through a concrete assessment by the judge of the merits of the real extent and seriousness of the conduct charged to the employee, as well as of the proportionality between the sanction and the breach, even when the abstract correspondence of the employee’s behavior to the case typified by the national collective agreement is found, it is always necessary that the conduct sanctioned is referable to the legal notion of just cause, taking into account the seriousness of the employee’s behavior in concrete terms, even from the subjective point of view of guilt or intent”. It should also be recalled, continues the Court of Cassation, that “the list of cases of just cause for dismissal contained in the collective agreements is merely illustrative and does not exclude, therefore, the existence of just cause for a serious breach or serious conduct of the employee contrary to the rules of common ethics or common civil life, on the sole condition that such serious breach of contract or such serious conduct by the employee contrary to the rules of common ethics or common civil life, is capable of breaking the relationship of trust between employer and employee (cf. , ex plurimis, Cass. 6/8/2020 no. 16784, Cass. 12/2/2016 no. 2830 Cass. 4/3/2013 no. 5280)”. The Supreme Court notes, therefore, as in this case the Court of Appeal has followed these principles of case law, “proceeding to a thorough review of the evidence; qualifying in terms of seriousness of the conduct of the worker who had caused an obvious breach of the principles of fairness and good faith placed to protect the birth and performance of obligations that define the employment relationship, by counterfeiting on two occasions, the signatures affixed by customers to forms relating to the definition of financial transactions, operating, therefore, a correct inclusion of the facts described within the category of serious breach, operating, therefore, a correct subsumption of the facts described in the category of serious breach, under Article 2119 Civil Code”. Hence the rejection of the claim brought by the employee and the confirmation of the lawfulness of the dismissal for just cause served.