Dissolution of employment contract due to private relationship teacher-student?

This week, we share with you a case in which an educational institution requests the dissolution of a teacher's employment contract because she has a private relationship with a student.

Does the court indeed proceed to dissolve the employment contract?

The issue in this case, as indicated, is whether a teacher's employment contract should be terminated due to the mere fact that, as a teacher, she has a private relationship with a student at the same school and the risks this entails.

The teacher in question was already in a relationship with her partner (the student in question) before he started his training in September 2020.

It is undisputed that the teacher's then supervisor knew about the private relationship and did not draw any consequences.

Indeed, the supervisor, fully aware of the existence of the private relationship, offered the teacher a permanent contract with effect from January 2022.

In view of this, the lecturer was justified in trusting that the educational institution would have no problem with the situation, according to the subdistrict court. If the supervisor was perhaps out of line, that does not change anything.

The teacher was entitled to rely on his conduct and did not have to investigate whether other persons within the educational institution might have a problem with the situation. This is all the more important as the situation in question cannot be easily compared to the situation to which the Code of Conduct submitted by the employer is geared: the situation in which a teacher approaches a pupil in a way that violates the rules or enters into a love affair with a pupil.

Moreover, the subdistrict court noted that that Code of Conduct was a draft dating from April 2022, which had not yet been officially introduced, and that the integrity code previously applied by the employer apparently made no mention of this point.

However, it can be conceded to employer that a private relationship between a teacher and a student is undesirable in principle, whether or not an internal code of conduct is in place.

That questions of dependency, confidentiality and conflict of interest have arisen does not surprise the subdistrict court, and it is commendable that the employer - also in the interest of its student - cares about such questions.

In this case, however, the situation was tolerated for a long time and the educational institution committed the teacher to a permanent contract for an indefinite period of time.

Furthermore, the employee does not teach subjects to her partner. Under these circumstances, the mere fact that the private relationship is undesirable within the educational institution can no longer justify the onerous remedy of dissolving the permanent employment relationship.

The conclusion is that the subdistrict court will reject the employer's request and therefore the employment contract will not be dissolved.

Read the ruling here.

If you want to know more about this ruling, or if you have other questions about dissolution of an employment contract and the (im)possibilities in that context, please do not hesitate to contact one of our employment lawyers immediately.

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