A court in Belgium has ordered the holding company behind the former Predictor-Lotto team to pay almost €150,000 in compensation and back salary to Bjorn Leukemans after it was found that he had been illegally dismissed by the team in 2007.
Leukemans, now at Vacansoleil-DCM, was fired by Predictor-Lotto on December 26 of that year after testing positive for artificial testosterone in an out-of-competition control.
However, La Dernière Heure reports that the labour court in Ghent has found that the Belgian Cycling Company (BCC) did not respect all of the steps necessary to terminate Leukeman’s contract for gross misconduct.
According to Belgian law, an employer must act within three days of learning of the misconduct in question. However, BCC’s letter of termination was inadvertently posted to Leukemans' parents’ address rather than to the rider himself. Leukemans had moved from that address a year previously and had notified his team.
The Labour Court found that only a termination letter to Leukemans’ new residence would have been valid and ruled that BCC had “committed unpardonable negligence and must bear the consequences.” BCC has been ordered to pay €127,000 in compensation, €16,000 in back salary and €5,500 in legal fees.
BCC is set to lodge an appeal against the ruling of the Ghent Court.