The 59-year-old man had been working at shipbuilder IHC from Kinderdijk in South Holland for thirteen years, but was fired at the end of 2019 because he allegedly threatened an executive with a knife.
The day before, there had been a disagreement between the employee and his supervisor about whether the man was allowed a few hours off due to physical complaints as a result of a trip.
‘I’ll cut your throat’
According to the executive’s lecture, the next morning, the man came “with bulging eyes and foaming at the mouth” by walking into his office, taking a two-inch knife from his pocket and saying, “I’m cutting your throat.”
The manager would then have said ‘we are not going to do that’ and ordered him to put the knife away. The man would then have made some more threats, but eventually left the office.
The employee denied the threat. He said he had entered the office because he had felt for years that his supervisor disliked him, and he wanted to know why. He would also have wanted to discuss the situation of the day before. His supervisor would then have sent him away with the threat of firing him.
After interviews with colleagues who confirmed that the supervisor had told them emotionally and deeply upset after the incident, the company believed the threat had taken place and fired the man on the spot.
The employee was not satisfied with this and went to court. A decision made public yesterday by the Court of Appeal in The Hague shows that he lost the case at the court in Rotterdam last year, but then appealed.
According to the employee, his supervisor would have had an aversion to him and had systematically bullied, discriminated against, insulted and belittled him for years. He also pointed out the possibility that the three colleagues were in cahoots because IHC wanted to get rid of him.
Finally, he pointed out that the knife later found at his workplace was needed to cut packaging during his work.
The employee was also unable to convince the court with this. Partly on the basis of the manager’s report to the police and the statements made to the court by the colleagues who had been informed by him, the Court of Appeal also believes that the threat with the knife took place.
The court also considers the threat an ‘urgent reason’ for summary dismissal. This means that the employee is not entitled to severance pay or compensation for unfair dismissal.
Furthermore, the man can most likely whistle for unemployment benefits and he will pay about 3000 euros in legal costs from his former employer.