Helsinki Committee criticizes the ongoing practice of Radio Free
Europe which offers to job applicants the employment agreements
containing discriminative and deceptive clause; and is concerned
that the Czech courts did not provide effective protection to women
who suffered injustice.
Two former employees of the Radio, the Croatian
citizen Snjezana Pelivan and Armenian citizen Anna Karapetian,
contacted the Czech Helsinki Committee. Both have similar cases.
Both women had concluded with Radio Free Europe employment
agreements containing the clause about choice of American law as the
governing law. Labor relations of both women were terminated by
employer without providing any reason.
Both of them had sought the court protection. In case of Snjezana
Pelivan, the courts did not satisfy the request to declare her
termination invalid; this is the reason why Mrs. Pelivan has
appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. Mrs. Karapetian in
her court application sought the decision rendering her employment
termination invalid and, in particular, declaring the invalidity of
the clause concerning the choice of law. The courts of the first and
second levels rejected her request; however, the Supreme Court
cancelled the decision of two lower courts and returned her case to
the Court of first level. In November 2010, that Court satisfied her
request to declare the termination invalid and did so due to
invalidity of the choice of law clause. The Court of Appeals did not
share the position taken by the lower court, changed its decision
and rejected the plaintiff's claim. Now the case will be again
considered by the Supreme Court.
The problem was created due to the single reason.
The actions of employer (RFE/RL) are such that labor agreements with
Czech citizens are concluded according to the Czech law and labor
relations with American citizens are governed by U.S. laws.
Employment agreements with foreigners include the clause about
choice of American laws. In fact, however, the American labor law is
inapplicable to labor agreements with foreigners because such
employees may request the protection provided by American laws only
if they work at the territory of the United States of America;
protection abroad is provided on condition that employee is an
American citizen. In this respect, legal protection of RFE/RL
employees with foreign citizenship is significantly reduced or
In our opinion, in such cases of inapplicability
of the chosen law, the Czech courts had to extend to employees the
protection in accordance with Czech labor law regulations.
Simultaneously, we consider the practice of Radio Free Europe as
immoral. Particularly, in view of the fact that employees are not
informed by the employer about inapplicability of American laws to
their labor relations.
From the point of view of international law, the
RFE/RL practice described above may be considered as contradicting
the fundamental principle of unconditional application of the law of
that state on whose territory employment agreement is concluded,
except the relations with international element. In this case,
however, in accordance with principles of international law, despite
the international element is present physically, in the nature of
things, it is necessary to treat Radio Free Europe as a Czech
employer being a subject to Czech law, and provide effective
protection to the women who suffered injustice.