Judgment No. 4217
1. The decision of the President of IFAD of 14 March 2017, as well as the decision of 10 December 2015 insofar as it did not recognise the moral harassment suffered by the complainant and did not grant her compensation for moral injury, and the decision of 21 December 2015 are set aside.
2. IFAD shall pay the complainant 30,000 euros in moral damages.
3. It shall also pay her 6,000 euros in costs.
4. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant challenges the decision not to provide her with the record of the investigation that ensued after she filed a harassment complaint against her supervisor, and the fact that she received no compensation for the moral harassment that she claims to have suffered.
complaint allowed; decision quashed; inquiry; harassment
The complainant alleges, among other things, that her right to due process had been violated as a result of IFAD’s refusal to provide her with the investigation file containing, in addition to the investigation report itself, the minutes of the meetings held and the statements gathered. IFAD submits that it was not able to provide the file in question because the purpose of an investigation is not to share the findings with the person who lodged the complaint but to establish the facts. Nevertheless, it produced a redacted copy of the investigation report as an annex to its surrejoinder.
In view of the fact that it did so, the Tribunal considers that there is, in any event, no need to grant the request for disclosure of the other elements of the investigation file, which is not necessary to resolve the dispute.
confidential evidence; disclosure of evidence; inquiry
The Tribunal considers that IFAD erred in refusing to grant the complainant’s request for a copy of the report established by the AUO at the end of the investigation in respect of the supervisor mentioned in her harassment complaint.
The Tribunal has consistently held that a staff member must, as a rule, have access to all the evidence on which the competent authority bases its decision concerning her or him (see, for example, Judgments 2229, under 3(b), 2700, under 6, 3214, under 24, or 3295, under 13). This implies, among other things, that an organisation must forward to a staff member who has filed a harassment complaint the report drawn up at the end of the investigation of that complaint (see, for example, Judgments 3347, under 19 to 21, and 3831, under 17).
Of course, this obligation to disclose must be balanced against the need to respect the confidential nature of some aspects of an inquiry, particularly the witness statements gathered in the course of the inquiry. As the Tribunal’s case law has confirmed, such confidentiality may be necessary in order to ensure witnesses’ protection and freedom of expression (see, in particular, Judgments 3732, under 6, and 3640, under 19 and 20). Moreover, in this case the confidentiality of some information related to the investigation was expressly required by the provisions on this matter contained in section 4 of Annex I to the President’s Bulletin PB/2007/02 of 21 February 2007 concerning investigation processes.
Although it is true that IFAD produced a redacted copy of the investigation report as an annex to its surrejoinder, by refusing to provide the complainant with the report in question during the internal appeals procedure it nevertheless unlawfully deprived her of the possibility of usefully challenging the findings of the investigation. In this case, the fact that the complainant was ultimately able to obtain a copy of the report during the proceedings before the Tribunal does not remedy the flaw tainting the internal appeal process. Indeed, the Tribunal’s case law recognises that, in some cases, the nondisclosure of evidence can be corrected when this flaw is subsequently remedied, including in proceedings before it (see, for example, Judgment 3117, under 11), that is not the case where the document in question is of vital importance having regard to the subject matter of the dispute, as it is here (see Judgments 2315, under 27, 3490, under 33, 3831, cited above, under 16, 17 and 29, or 3995, under 5).
[I]t [...] follows from the above that the decision [...] whereby IFAD refused to provide the complainant with the investigation report drawn up by the AUO, is unlawful and must, therefore, be set aside.
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 2229, 2315, 2700, 3214, 3295, 3347, 3490, 3640, 3732, 3831, 3995
confidential evidence; organisation's duties; harassment; investigation
According to the Tribunal’s case law, by virtue of the principle that an international organisation must provide its staff members with a safe and healthy working environment, it is liable for all injuries caused to a staff member by a supervisor when the victim is subjected to treatment that is an affront to her or his dignity (see, for example, Judgments 1609, under 16, 1875, under 32, 2706, under 5, or 3170, under 33).
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 1609, 1875, 2706, 3170
moral injury; respect for dignity; working conditions; compensation; harassment
[T]he Tribunal considers that there are no grounds for awarding costs in respect of the internal appeal proceedings. Such costs may only be awarded under exceptional circumstances, which do not exist in the present case.
costs; internal procedure