A judge has ruled against the municipality of Castel Volturno in Italy's southern Campania region after it refused to pay a maternity grant and family benefits to a Nigerian migrant. The judge said that similar EU legislation demanded the woman be treated equally.
The municipality of Castel Volturno near the southern city of Caserta had argued that the Nigerian mother-of-five did not quality for benefits as she did not hold a stay permit for long-term resident, and on the grounds that she had not applied for aid with the appropriate department using the correct procedures. The woman had, however, correctly filed a request to receive the benefits within the required six month-period after giving birth to triplets.
The judge at the labor court in Santa Maria Capua Vetere decided in her favor, saying that the practice could be deemed discriminatory, and ruling that the wording of the Italian law creates "a disparity between Italian and foreign residents" while similar European legislation grants benefits to citizens and foreign residents alike. Judge Rosa Capasso cited article 12 of directive 98 from 2011, which states that foreign workers enjoy the same benefits as citizens of the member state in which they are living in the social security sector.
The judge then ordered the social security and pensions agency INPS to pay her the benefits and to "immediately cease its discriminatory conduct."
It was also highlighted in court that the Nigerian national had a legal job contract and had worked as a farmworker and domestic helper in addition to holding a valid stay permit for the time being, while paying all her taxes in a low-income job, thus meeting all qualifications required by law to request maternity benefits and aid for households with at least three underage children.
Born in Italy - but not Italian
The Nigerian woman lives with her five children in Castel Volturno - an area considered to be one of Europe's largest migrant 'ghettoes' with an estimated population of 15,000 irregular migrants and some 5,000 legal migrants.
All five of her children were born in Italy but are not considered Italian citizens due to Italian nationality laws that demand at least one parent to be Italian in order to qualify for citizenship at birth.