Court rejects backdated Hartz IV welfare increase

Welfare recipients hoping for a windfall from the current review of Hartz IV unemployment benefits are set for disappointment after Germany's highest court ruled Thursday that any hike should not be backdated.

Court rejects backdated Hartz IV welfare increase
Keep demonstrating... Photo: DPA

The Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court knocked back an application from a North Rhine-Westphalian couple who argued they should be reimbursed for six months in 2005 when they were systematically underpaid.

The same court ruled in February that the government had to revise the way payments to 6.5 million Hartz IV recipients were calculated. The present method of calculation breached the constitution, the court said.

In the new case, the claimants, a couple from the city of Bottrop in North Rhine-Westphalia, claimed retroactive payments for the period between January and June 2005, when they were on long-term unemployment benefits.

During this time, they were receiving €814.95 a month – €311 each in unemployment benefits plus €192.95 between them for housing and heating. In their complaint, they claimed they should receive an extra €564.30 per month in backdated payments for this period.

The court disagreed, saying the government could continue using the present, unconstitutional system of payments until a new system was introduced.

Furthermore, new “hardship” regulations established by the previous ruling, could not be applied retrospectively, the court decided.

Their couple’s case had previously been rejected by another federal court.

As a result of the February ruling, the government must undertake a massive review of the current system by the end of the year.

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Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs’ door policies in court

Bouncers at German nightclubs are legendary for their reluctance to let too many people through the door. A Munich man is now taking one club to court for turning him away based on his age.

Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs' door policies in court
Inside a night club in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In a case that could have an impact on clubs up and down the country, 47-year-old Nils Kratzer is challenging a nightclub’s door policy in the Federal Court in Karlsruhe on Thursday, arguing that a bouncer’s decision to turn him away at the door was discriminatory.

The incident occurred when Kratzer tried to get into an open air club night on the Praterinsel, a small island on the river Isar in Munich in 2017.

“I’ve never had anyone tell me to my face that I’m too old for a festival,” Kratzer said before the hearing. “On the contrary, I’ve often gone to festivals nationwide with my friends in the past and all ages have been represented.”

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The club makes no bones about the fact that it told its bouncers to discriminate at the door, but argues that this was based on “optics” and not on age. It argues that, given that there was only space for 1,500 guests, it needed to discriminate on some grounds.

If Kratzer were to win the case, which he is basing on anti-discrimination laws introduced in 2006, it would force all German night clubs to review their door policies, as a ruling by a federal court sets a legal precedent.

But Kratzer has already failed to convince a Munich city court and a Bavarian state court of his case. At the Munich city court, he called his younger girlfriend to testify in order to establish his youthfulness.

Nils Kratzer. Photo: DPA

He also complained that Munich clubs have a culture of discrimination at their doors, saying one had turned him away for being a man, while he had also witnessed people being turned away based on their skin colour.

“Not all unequal treatment is discrimination,” argues Sandra Warden from the German Hotel and Restaurant Association. “Event organisers are free to decide whom they let in. The host’s right to decide is protected in our country.”

Warden said that clubs often discriminate based on age, such as at Ü-30 parties, ones where only people over the age of 30 are allowed to enter.

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