The Swedish Construction Workers’ Union (Sw. Svenska Byggnadsarbetareförbundet) brought an action before the Swedish Labour Court (Sw. Arbetsdomstolen), claiming damages on behalf of its member, alleging that the employer had fabricated a false notice of termination document. The Labour Court found that the employer had made it at least predominantly likely (Sw. övervägande sannolikt) that the notice of termination document was genuine and had proved (Sw. styrkt) that the employee had handed it over to the employer. The action brought by the Construction Workers’ Union was thus dismissed.
The Labour Court’s judgment concerns the question of whether or not a carpenter has resigned from his employment. As the title indicates, the case highlights the question of the placement of the burden of proof in cases where it is alleged that a notice of termination document is falsified. The case can be considered to reaffirm the evidentiary requirement (Sw. beviskravet) and the placement of the burden of proof that has previously been established in case law. This entails that the employer has the burden of proof and the evidentiary requirement to make it predominantly likely that a personally signed written notice of termination document, that can be presented in original, is genuine.
The Construction Workers’ Union brought an action before the Labour Court, claiming damages on behalf of its member and alleging that the employer had fabricated a false notice of termination document, which should ultimately be considered as a dismissal of the employee. The Construction Workers’ Union argued that the employee had not submitted the notice of termination to the employer and that he had not been present at the employer’s premises on the day that the resignation (as alleged by the employer) had taken place. The employee did not oppose that it was his signature on the document but claimed that he had not signed the document. Instead, he claimed that his signature was most likely cut from some other document that he had signed during his employment. The employer denied that the notice of termination document was forged and claimed that the employee had handed the personally signed notice of termination document to the employer at a personal meeting on the employer’s premises.
The Labour Court considered previous case law from the Swedish Supreme Court (Sw. Högsta domstolen) and stated that the employer has the burden of proof that a personally signed written notice of termination document, presented in original, is genuine. In such a situation, the employer must make it predominantly likely that the document is genuine, which in relation to prove, is a lower evidentiary requirement. The reason for the lower evidentiary requirement is that the presentation of an original document is deemed to have an evidentiary effect in itself. The Labour Court also pointed out that the employer has the burden of proving that the document has been submitted by the employee. The employer must prove that the employee has submitted the document to the employer. Similarly, an employee who claims that an employer has invoked a forged notice of termination document, has the burden of proving that the document is forged, and that the employer has invoked the document with knowledge of the forgery. In the aforementioned case, the evidentiary requirement for the employee is that it must be proven.
Based on the relatively extensive oral and written evidence presented by the employer, the Labour Court found that the employer had fulfilled its burden of proof. The evidence consisted of, inter alia, several employees testifying that the employee was at the employer’s premises and had handed over the notice of termination document on the day in question, as well as written evidence in the form of a confirmation of the termination that had been prepared, signed and sent to the employee. The witness statements were supported by the confirmation of termination, as well as a pay slip for the employee for the month of April, stating “final salary”. Consequently, the Labour Court concluded that the employer had fulfilled its burden of proof by making it at least predominantly likely that the notice of termination document was genuine and proving that the employee had handed over the document to the employer. Furthermore, the Labour Court found that the employee’s testimony on the handover of the notice of termination at the employer’s premises was not particularly detailed and that the arguments and evidence presented by the employee’s side did not diminish the value of the employer’s evidence.