Friendhy Approach in German Courts
Jul. 29, 1998
HAMM, German (AP) _ A court may not be able to order someone to be pals with his co-workers, but in Germany it can insist he speak with them as such.
A state court in North Rhine-Westphalia said Wednesday that a 45-year-old department head at a clothing store had to follow company policy and use the relaxed form of address at work.
The German language has formal and informal forms of the pronoun ``you,'' with the polite form, ``Sie,'' generally used for managerial and older co-workers as a sign of respect. Some companies require use of the more familiar form, ``du,'' to promote a collegial environment.
Reinhard Weniger, who works for the Swedish H&M company, complained that using ``du'' among colleagues was a fashion of the younger generation that made him uncomfortable and affected his work.
The court rejected his exemption request, saying employees had approved H&M's policy when their company, Dyckhoff, was taken over by the Swedes.