Time limitations in soccer are effective: 1. FSV Mainz 05 e.V. succeeds with Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek in appeal against ex-goalkeeper Müller
By judgment of February 17, 2016 (Case 4 Sa 202/15), Rhineland-Palatinate Labor Court considered the temporary nature of the player's contract between 1. FSV Mainz 05 e. V. and Heinz Müller of May 07, 2012 to be effective and ruled that the employment relationship ended on June 30, 2014. The State Labor Court thus decided in favor of the appellant, 1. FSV Mainz 05 e.V., against the judgment of Mainz Labor Court of March 19, 2015.
Unlike the first instance, the State Labor Court concluded that there were objective grounds for the fixed term in accordance with Section 14(1) Act on Part-Time Work and Fixed-Term Employment Contracts as well as European directive 1999/70/EG. The State Labor Court thus took into account the practice in professional team sports and in particular in professional soccer. The court also denied the ex-goalkeeper’s claim to bonuses for points won, because then-coach Tuchel had made a comprehensible sports-based decision against starting Heinz Müller.
The first Chairman of 1. FSV Mainz 05 e.V., Harald Strutz, expressed his satisfaction: "The State Labor Court ruled correctly. The first instance labor court’s grounds were insufficient. Despite all of the regulations, professional sports cannot be compared with other businesses. The nature of the work justifies the fixed term of contracts."
1. FSV Mainz 05 e. V. was represented in the appeal by Dr. Johan-Michel Menke, Certified Specialist in Employment Law and sports law expert at the law firm of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek. Menke considers the State Labor Court judgment as pointing the way: "Teams may continue to limit the employment contracts with their players beyond two years or extend them. This applies not only to soccer, but also to ice hockey, handball, or basketball.” It remains to be seen whether after the announcement of the judgment Heinz Müller will file an appeal in the next instance at the Federal Labor Court or possibly at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The current JUVE Handbook 2015/2016 lists Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek in the category of "Particularly recommended advisors in Sports Law":
The firm’s sports law practice attracted a fair amount of attention recently due to some matters pertaining to employment law in football, advising among others football league DFL and the HSV team. Having been retained by FSV Mainz in its legal dispute with ex-goalkeeper Müller, the practice is additionally involved in a case with fundamental importance that could be pioneering for fixed-term contracts in professional sports.
Sample matters (press releases):
Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek writes legal history in football: Temporary contracts in sports remain permissible
Fixed-term employment contracts in professional soccer
Legal dispute with former goalkeeper Müller: 1. FSV Mainz 05 e.V. appeals decision with assistance of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek