Weekly Briefing (September 29, 2018)

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-Court appointments: There have been new 3 constitutional court appointments made last September 21, 2018. Nam Seok YU is the new Constitutional Court Chief, and Seok Tae LEE and Eun Aae LEE are new constitutional judges appointed who are nominees made by the Supreme Court Chief. The Constitutional Court of Korea is made up of 9 constitutional court judges, with the National Assembly and the Supreme Court Chief Justice each having the right to nominate 3 constitutional court judges and the remaining 3 appointed by the President of Korea. The Constitutional Court Chief is appointed by the President of Korea among the constitutional court judges and the appointment requires a confirmation hearing and consent of the National Assembly.   Currently, however, there are still 3 vacant constitutional court judgeships as the National Assembly has been having trouble reaching consensus on choosing its own 3 nominees over political differences between the political parties. This means that the Constitutional Court has been operating with 6 constitutional court judges for some time, which is a big issue as the quorum for reviewing a court case at the Constitutional Court is 7.

-Recent court ruling: Seoul Administrative Court recently ruled in a labor case (2017KuHap74337) that assigning entry-level works to a female employee who came back from maternity leave and who previously occupied a team manager position was an unlawful personnel decision made by the company. This employee started at Namyang Dairy Co., Ltd. in 2002, became head of advertisement team in 2008 and took a 1-year maternity leave from the company. Upon coming back from the leave, the employee was told to report to personnel department and, despite the employee’s request to continue to work as head of the advertisement team, the employee was assigned to a position within promotion strategy team. The central labor committee under the Labor Ministry that has reviewed the employee’s petition to seek a remedy from an unlawful personnel order decided in favor of the company, on the ground that there was a necessity with which the personnel order was made. The Seoul Administrative Court, however, overturned the central labor committee’s decision and ruled in favor of the employee, stating that although it would not be easy to assign an employee to a previous position after maternity leave, when considering all the circumstances surrounding the personnel order made, it seemed evident that the employee was relieved from head of the advertisement team because of the employee’s decision to utilize the maternity leave.