Cleaner loses job after refusing to wear a face mask

The 32-year-old man has worked at Asito since 2015 as a cleaner for aircraft at Schiphol. The cleaning company works for customers such as Air France-KLM, Emirates and Turkish Airlines.

Masks obligation

Due to the outbreak of the corona virus, both Schiphol and the aviation companies have a strict mouth mask obligation. But the cleaner refused to comply with this on four different working days between May and August last year.

Even after the cleaner was pointed out that there was a face mask obligation at the airport and at the airlines, he persisted in his position.

Violation of rights

Instead, he informed his superiors and colleagues that he “knew a lot about his rights” and that mandatory masks would violate them. According to the company, the man would have threatened to ‘approach’ anyone who was complicit in violating his rights.

Asito suspended the cleaner in early August, stopped paying wages and went to court to be able to fire the man. A ruling made public today shows that the subdistrict court in Haarlem recently ruled that the company may indeed put the man out on the street.


The cleaner was not assisted by a lawyer in the case, but defended himself. According to the subdistrict court judge, however, the documents he submitted to the court were ‘incoherent and (…) impossible to understand’. That is why the judge paid no further attention to it.

According to the subdistrict court, the cleaning company may impose an obligation on its employees to wear a face mask, in line with the guidelines of the airport and the RIVM.

“It should also be taken into account that in a working environment such as this, more than average strict rules and protocols apply, which everyone who works there must adhere to,” said the ruling.

No severance pay

The cleaner not only loses his job, but also his right to severance pay because, in the opinion of the subdistrict court, he acted ‘seriously culpable’. That qualification is not the result of the refusal to wear a mask, but it is the persistence of this after repeated requests.

Because the cleaner did not bother to be present in court during the hearing, the subdistrict court was unable to determine whether there might be extenuating personal circumstances.

The cleaner not only loses his job without severance pay, but also has to pay 873 euros in legal costs from his former employer.

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