Settlement of labor disputes in court

Jan, 21 2024


Every labor relations participant has the right to protect their rights and freedoms, including with the support of the State. This is stipulated by the legislation of the Russian Federation. It follows that employees and employers can resolve labor disputes not only administratively, but also in court. According to the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, the resolution of labor disputes in court is the main way to protect the interests of the parties.

A labor dispute is not just a conflict between an employer, a manager, and employees. This is a disagreement that directly affects work issues: working conditions, workplace safety, salary, and many other things. Moreover, from the law viewpoint, a labor dispute can arise even before the person is hired or after his/her dismissal. For example, management may refuse to employ illegally, or may not pay severance pay (provided for by law) to a dismissed employee.

One of the most common causes of labor disputes is a breach of contract or the Labor Code. However, the plaintiff is not always a subordinate. The employer or manager also has the right to resort to pre-trial or judicial proceedings.

Individual and collective disputes

The procedure for resolving labor disputes in court is affected by their type. Lawyers classify labor disputes according to different characteristics, but most often they are divided into two large categories: individual and collective. The labor dispute resolution method varies depending on the number of parties.

An individual conflict is a disagreement between an employer or its representative and one employee. The courts consider individual labor disputes on the applications of an employee, employer or trade union acting on behalf of one of the employees. The procedure for labor disputes resolution in court in such cases is determined by the civil procedural legislation norms.

The reasons for judicial proceedings may be:

  • Claims on the employee part: they have the right to demand a change in the date of dismissal or its reasons specified in the documents. Employees can also apply for reinstatement, compensation, and personal data protection. The claim subject may be both actions and omissions on the employer part.
  • Claims on the employer part: regarding the employee’s negligence/ neglect of official duty, negligence in the duty performance. In addition, the employer can claim damages if they believe the employee caused it.
  • Claims from different parties to the employment contract: usually we refer to employees entered into a contract with individual entrepreneurs or organizations. However, the plaintiff in this case can be the entrepreneur him/herself.
  • Employment refusal: for example, the common female phrase ‘we will not hire you because you / those who are soon on maternity leave’ is a direct violation of legal norms that can serve as a lawsuit reason. However, this is not the only possible violation on the employer part, which he/she cannot avoid at the stage of hiring. Another striking example is the demand for a bribe to get a job.
  • Discrimination: not only in employment, but also during work. This category also includes legal proceedings related to the illegal dismissal of employees based on their discrimination in the workplace.

Collective labor disputes may arise for the same reasons as individual ones. However, in this case, more people take part in them. As a rule, a collective labor dispute is a disagreement between an employer and several employees. Such cases are examined by council of conciliation. By the law, employees are allowed to resort to a strike for protection of their rights and freedoms as a last resort.

Legal recourse terms

It is impossible to sue an employer several years after the conflict has occurred. As the law strictly stipulates the terms when an employee or, conversely, an employer have a right to apply to the judicial authorities for protection of their rights and interests. It is equal to only 3 months from the moment when a person learns about violation of their rights. However, it is worth noting that he/she can learn about the violation long after the rights have actually been violated.

The deadline for filing a claim in court is even shorter if you need to examine the dismissal case. It is only one month from the date of issuing the employment record, receiving a copy of the dismissal order or providing information about the last place of work.

It is another matter if the employee did not receive the salary or other payments entitled to her/him. However, the reason for the dispute may also be the amount the employee eventually received: if the payments are incomplete, he/she also has the right to claim compensation for the difference in court. In this case, the employee has a year to apply through the courts for the salary or other payments entitled by law.

The terms when an employer can apply to the court to recover damages is also one year from the day some reasons for a labor dispute are found out.

Features of labor dispute resolution in court

When filing a claim related to an employment relationship, the employee does not pay fees and legal costs. This is the key difference between such processes and any settlement of all other cases, when the court does not review the issue without the plaintiff having previously paid the fee.

In addition, it is not always possible for an employee or employer to go directly to court. In some cases, the law requires that they first try to settle the issue administratively or in pre-trial detention.

A commission, which equally includes representatives of both parties, is a way to resolve differences is in the case of individual disputes. The commission’s decision is binding, but if one of the parties to the labor disputes considers their rights violated, then they can file the lawsuit. Collective labor disputes are examined by the conciliation commission, which also includes representatives of both parties.

However, not all types of individual labor disputes are within the competence of the labor disputes commission. It can review issues of changing the contract terms, failure to provide an employee with leave or days off, any disciplinary action, etc.

But the commission cannot examine labor disputes that affect the dismissal or reinstatement of an employee, changes in employment records, compensation for damages and discrimination. These issues are reviewed exceptionally by the judicial authorities.

So, the parties to an employment contract can protect their interests in court. Such cases are examined by the general rules and norms of legal proceedings, unless it is a question of collective disputes, which are dealt with by council of conciliation. In most cases, the plaintiff can decide for him/herself whether to try to settle the issue in a pre-trial detention or immediately draft a suit.

Author of the article
Settlement of labor disputes in court
Valentina Khlavich
Managing Partner
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