The European Court of Justice's ("ECJ") Laval quartet held that worker collective actions that impacted freedom of services and establishment in the E.U. violated E.U. law. After Laval, the Swedish Labor Court imposed exemplary or punitive damages on labor unions for violating E.U. law. These cases have generated critical discussions regarding not only the proper balance between markets and workers’ freedom of association, but also what should be the proper remedies for employers who suffer illegal actions by labor unions under E.U. law. While any reforms to rebalance fundamental freedoms as a result of the Laval quartet will have to be very sensitive to member state and E.U. institutions and practices, an American perspective may prove useful to figure out the way forward. The United States has a rich experience of court-imposed injunctions and punitive damages which ultimately were deemed excessive by the public. It required very assertive legislative and executive action to curb such excessive judicial incursions into the workplace. To the extent the American experience is relevant to the EU, it will be very likely that the E.U. will require political leadership and EU-wide labor law and policy to rebalance markets and workers’ rights in the EU.
César F. Rosado Marzán & Margot Nikitas,
Danbury Hatters in Sweden: An American Perspective of Employer Remedies for Illegal Collective Actions,
Available at: http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/fac_schol/436