Can I File an Employment Lawsuit in Germany?

Living and working in Germany definitely has perks, but it can get complicated when you have legal questions or disputes. When you have a contract dispute or other altercation with your employer, you might not know where to turn—can you file a lawsuit as a foreign worker? Do you have rights as a contractor? What can you do to protect your rights if you aren’t a citizen of the EU? Our firm is experienced in handling employment legal disputes including employment contract disputes, termination proceedings, severance agreements, and other issues related to employee rights in Germany and the European Union.

German Labor Law and International Worker Rights

German employment law is based on federal legislation, case law, works council agreements, and the individual employment contracts that set the terms of any arrangement. An important consideration for international workers is whether they have the right to file a claim in Germany in the event of a violation or contract dispute. As an expat living and working in Germany, you do have rights and legal standing. Our attorneys can help you negotiate an employment contract and pursue any dispute resolution or litigation on your behalf.

Do I need a work permit in Germany?

Foreign employees will require both a residence permit and a work permit unless they are already a national of an EU country. These are granted together as a “residence title for the purpose of employment” (Aufenthaltstitel zum Zwecke der Beschäftigung). If you are a foreign worker on behalf of a company in your country of origin, you will need a posting contract (Entsendungsvertrag) from your employer. Whether or not you reside in Germany temporarily, permanently, or intermittently will impact your rights and how to proceed in an employment dispute.

Do I have rights as a foreign worker in Germany?

Yes, any worker in Germany is protected under German labor laws, even if that work is temporary. If you are employed in your country of origin but are sent to Germany on a work assignment, your country of origin law will generally apply, however in some instances you can still invoke German labor law and would have jurisdiction before the German employment courts. For example, you have the right to certain minimum wages, you are entitled to the same regulations related to working time, occupational safety, maternity benefits, and other rights for employees. And, most importantly, you might have a higher level of protection against unfair dismissal. Our attorneys can help review the particular facts and circumstances of your case and help to determine your rights and best course of action in the event of a dispute.

How do I protect my rights as an international employee?

Most importantly, German law does not distinguish between national and non-national employees. This means that it is unfair for any employer to treat you differently or to discriminate against you because you are not a German citizen. It is unlawful for a German employer to treat you differently and if this occurs, you can invoke your rights under German law and European Union law to ensure equal treatment. Remember not to sign anything without consulting a German attorney. Employment law is complicated and you could be waiving important rights.

Do temporary workers have rights in Germany?

Yes, temporary workers (Leiharbeitnehmer) who work for a temporary work agency have rights under EU law to be treated the same in principle as permanent or national workers. If you are a cross-border worker, meaning that you live and work in different EU countries but return to your place of residence, you may still have a right to German benefits, including maternity leave. Employees with fixed term contracts or seasonal employees are also entitled to the same benefits as German employees.

Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt Foreign Worker Employment Rights Attorneys

If you are facing a conflict with a foreign employer regarding your work contract (Arbeitsvertrag), you may have rights to take legal action in Germany. Our attorneys are experienced in the complexities of employment standing in Germany and throughout the EU and can protect your rights. We will review your contract and work arrangement to determine if you have standing to bring a court case in Germany.

We at ZELLER & SEYFERT are highly experienced in handling cases involving German employment law, litigation, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR). We also advocate on behalf of clients who will be entering into executive contracts, limited or unlimited contracts, severance and termination agreements or conflicts with regards to German law. Just contact Atty. Dr. Christian Zeller via or call us at +49 69 58 80 972-40 (Frankfurt am Main) or +49 30 40 36 785-80 (Berlin).