Referees are not employees: German soccer association Deutscher Fußball-Bund e.V. (DFB) successfully fends off referee Dittrich's appeal with Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek
In its March 15, 2018 judgment (Case: 9 Sa 1399/16), Hesse Regional Labor Court ruled that no employment relationship exists between Deutscher Fußball-Bund e.V. and Dr. Dittrich, so that Dr. Dittrich may not invoke Section 14 German Part-Time and Fixed-Term Contracts Act and may not demand continued employment as an employee. The Regional Labor Court thus confirms the September 14, 2016 judgment of Frankfurt am Main Labor Court (Case: 6 Ca 1686/16) and follows the arguments of the DFB in the appeal. The Regional Labor Court arrived at the conclusion that a referee is not subject to employment law directives of the DFB and is not integrated into the DFB work organization, either.
DFB Vice President Ronny Zimmermann, who is responsible for refereeing, said: "It is gratifying to see that the Hessian State Labor Court confirms the legal opinion of the DFB in this clear form that referees are not association employees. As in the recent case of former Mainz goalkeeper Heinz Müller, the ruling once again underlines the special features in sports. We will make a detailed assessment of the judgment once we receive the written grounds."
Dr. Johan-Michel Menke (Litigation) and Dr. Thomas Schulz represented the DFB in the appeal. Menke considers the Regional Labor Court ruling as a fundamental decision for refereeing: "The decision is welcome because it takes account of the specific nature of sports. The integrity of the competition will be strengthened and the special role of referees emphasized."
Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek:
Dr. Johan-Michel Menke (Litigation),
Dr. Thomas Schulz (both Employment, Hamburg)
Background: Menke was retained upon recommendation of DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH, because he most recently prevailed for example in the legal dispute with Heinz Müller for 1. FSV Mainz 05 e.V. (see press relase). In the first instance, the DFB had been successfully represented by Dr. Stephan Osnabrügge, who has since been appointed treasurer. Schulz, also a specialist lawyer for labor law with a special focus on sports law, had already worked at the DFB as trainee.