Judgment No. 3353
1. The ITU shall pay each complainant 60,000 euros in damages for moral injury.
2. The ITU shall pay each complainant 3,000 euros in costs.
3. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainants challenge the non-renewal of their contracts following a restructuring process and obtain moral damages for the serious affront to their dignity and the failure to give reasonable notice.
fixed-term; non-renewal of contract; staff reduction
"The Tribunal is satisfied that it is not necessary to hear the evidence from the complainants’ witnesses in order to determine the complaints in a way that provides a fair assessment of the complainants’ cases."
Considerations 15 and 16
"[T]he enquiry into the lawfulness of the non-renewal of the complainants’ employment extends further than these considerations. The Tribunal’s case law recognises other obligations on an international organisation where it does not renew a staff member’s fixed-term contract. According to the case law, substantively, a decision not to renew a fixed-term contract must be based on objective and valid grounds. There are also formal requirements. These, however, are to be assessed against the background of the consistent statements by the Tribunal that the decision not to renew a fixed-term contract is discretionary and can be reviewed only on limited grounds (see Judgments 2933, under 10, 2830, under 6, 1231, under 26, and 1154, under 4).
Accordingly, the Tribunal will not substitute its own assessment for that of the organisation. The Tribunal will only impeach such a decision if it is ultra vires: that is, if the decision is tainted by a legal or procedural irregularity; is based on incorrect facts; if essential facts have not been considered or wrong conclusions have been drawn from the facts, or if the decision is based on an error of fact or law or amounts to an abuse of authority (see, for example, Judgments 2850, under 6, 2861, under 83, and 3299, under 6)."
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 1154, 1231, 2830, 2850, 2861, 2933, 3299
fixed-term; non-renewal of contract
"The evidence shows that the functions for which new staff members were recruited required qualifications, expertise and experience that the complainants did not have. Accordingly, the restructuring involving a decision to abolish the complainants’ posts, was within the discretion of the ITU."
reorganisation; staff reduction
"The Tribunal’s case law states that the relations between an international organisation and a staff member must be governed by good faith, respect, transparency and consideration for their dignity (see Judgment 1479, under 12). Accordingly, an organisation is required to treat its staff with due consideration and to avoid causing them undue injury. An organisation must care for the dignity of its staff members and not cause them unnecessary personal distress and disappointment where this could be avoided. In particular, good faith requires an organisation to inform a staff member in advance of any action that it might take which may impair a staff member’s rights or rightful interest."
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 1479
good faith; respect for dignity; staff member's interest
"The Tribunal has stated, in Judgment 2861, under 27, that it must be taken to be normal practice in any international organisation to involve the Chief of a Section or Department in plans for its reorganisation. This is because not to do so would ordinarily constitute a serious failure to respect the dignity of that person."
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 2861
respect for dignity; reorganisation
Considerations 31 and 32
"This submission misses the essential and overriding concern that it is inimical to the dignity of a person who held the senior management positions that the complainants did, to have been left unaware that restructuring was being contemplated and then pursued. It is the Tribunal’s view that this was insensitive and it was not unexpected that they would have felt embarrassed, sidelined and hurt to be informed that their contracts would not be renewed because their posts were to be eliminated by a process that they were unaware of until it culminated in the abolition of their posts. [...] The Tribunal has not seen any good reason why the restructuring process was shrouded in secrecy and why that eventuality was not known to the complainants. [...]
It was insensitive and in scant respect for his dignity that Mr M.’s desk and computer were reallocated to other users without his prior knowledge even when he was still returning to his office [...] before his contract expired."
respect for dignity
"Reinstatement of a person on a fixed-term contract can be ordered but only in exceptional cases (see Judgment 1317, under 38). The circumstances in these cases are not of an exceptional character. In addition and more fundamentally, the issue of reinstatement does not arise because the decision not to renew the contracts remains a valid decision."
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 1317