Regional Labour Court Cologne: Return of the office key after termination of an employment
An employee who had received an office key in context with his employment is obliged to return this key upon request of the employer or after termination of the employment. In general, the keys have to be handed over at the place of the office. This obligation has been confirmed by the Regional Labour Court Cologne in its decision of 10 August 2017 (LAG Köln, 7 Sa 1073/16).
In the dispute at hand, an employee of a law firm had been provided with office keys in order to facilitate her work performance. In the beginning of 2016, the relationship between her and her employer worsened considerably. Due to the bad relationship, the employer asked her to return the office keys and two weeks later served her with the termination notice. In order to obtain the office keys, the employer even visited the employee at her private address. The employee, however, rejected to hand-over the keys due to the fact that the employment had not been terminated at that time. Additionally, she claimed, the key was already at her lawyer’s office and above that, she could not be forced to communicate with her employer at that time because their relationship had already turned unbearable. After termination, the employee sent the office keys via registered mail. The letter, however, arrived at the employer damaged and was lacking the keys. They were found by the post only four weeks later and thus it was delivered to the employer with delay. Consequently, the employer filed a lawsuit demanding damages for the exchange of the main door lock as well as the envisaged exchange of the locking system for the whole building. (Read more…)