TST – Shareholders in common, by themselves, do not characterize an economic group

The mere existence of common partners and a coordination relationship between the companies is not enough to characterize an economic group. With this understanding, the 4th Panel of the Superior Labor Court excluded an ice cream parlor from the list of companies jointly condemned to pay labor debts to a bus driver.

The lawsuit was filed against a transport company, the driver’s employer, and ten other companies from a group formed mostly by transport companies and, according to the plaintiff, also by the ice cream shop.

The judgment of the 2nd Labor Court of Araguaína (TO) understood that the companies formed an economic group and condemned them to pay the installments due to the driver, with the understanding that the partners were part of the same family.

“There is, without a doubt, the formation of a horizontal economic group by coordination, since the companies do act with a single objective and meeting the interests of the members of the families that compose them, even in different branches of activity”, pointed out the judge. The conviction was upheld in second instance.

In the appeal, the ice cream parlor maintained that the subordination between the companies under the direction, control and administration of one over the other was not proven. It also defended that it could not be condemned because the companies had common partners or because they belonged to the same family.

The rapporteur, Minister Caputo Bastos, observed that the mere existence of common partners and a coordination relationship between the companies is not a sufficient element for the characterization of the economic group. According to the rapporteur, the Regional Labor Court of the 10th Region contradicted the understanding of the TST on the matter, which requires the existence of control and inspection by a leading company for the configuration of the economic group.

With the characterization of an economic group removed, the panel dismissed the requests made in the initial petition in relation to the ice cream shop. The decision was unanimous.

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