BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A Catholic hospital cannot dismiss an employee who divorced and remarried, as abiding by Catholic rules does not constitute an occupational requirement, an adviser to the EU’s top court said on Thursday.
The hospital in Duesseldorf, Germany dismissed the Catholic doctor, who had worked there for nine years, after it learned of his remarriage.
It said he had violated the moral obligations of his employment when he divorced and remarried without annulling the first marriage, as prescribed under Catholicism.
But European Court of Justice Advocate General Melchior Wathelet disagreed.
“Such a profession of belief does not constitute, in this case, an occupational requirement, much less one that is genuine and justified,” he said in a statement.
The court, whose judgements cannot be appealed, is not obliged to follow the reasoning of its adviser, but usually does so.
Membership of the Catholic Church is not a requirement to work at the hospital, and non-Catholics employed there are not expected to abide by Catholic tenets, the adviser said.
(Reporting by Megan Dollar; editing by John Stonestreet)