Judgment No. 1234
1. THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL'S DECISION OF 14 OCTOBER 1991 IS SET ASIDE INSOFAR AS IT CONFIRMS THE TRANSFER OF THE COMPLAINANT AS DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE TO THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER.
2. THE ORGANIZATION SHALL PAY THE COMPLAINANT 25,000 SWISS FRANCS IN DAMAGES FOR MORAL INJURY.
3. IT SHALL PAY HIM 10,000 SWISS FRANCS TOWARDS COSTS.
The complainant, an official at grade D.2, was moved twice in 18 months but given no explanation for the moves. His second transfer was to a post at a lower grade, some distance from headquarters and in a field he had never worked in. "Although the Director-General will ordinarily be treated as the best judge of what the organization's interests are and the Tribunal will not ordinarily interfere in his assessment of them, nevertheless it will do so in this case. It is quite inadequate to plead that the decision to transfer the complainant was 'in the interests of the organization'. The basis for reaching that conclusion must be made clear so that the Tribunal may exercise its power of review and determine whether there exists any of the grounds for setting aside a discretionary decision of that kind."
duty to substantiate decision; organisation's duties; transfer; grade; downgrading; post; judicial review; discretion; limits; organisation's interest
The complainant, an official at grade D.2, was moved twice in 18 months but given no explanation for the transfers. His second move was to a post at a lower grade, at some distance from headquarters and in a field he had never worked in. The organization pleads that his transfer was "in the interests of the organization" and that the burden is on him to show that it was not. "But there it betrays a deeply mistaken view of its duty. Of course its own interests are paramount, but it must still, for the sake of proper management and mutual confidence, treat its staff fairly. If it is transferring a staff member it must let him have a degree of responsibility corresponding to his grade and respect his dignity. It must give him a statement of the reasons for the transfer and the opportunity of responding."
duty to substantiate decision; burden of proof; right to reply; organisation's duties; respect for dignity; staff member's interest; transfer; grade; downgrading; post; organisation's interest
The complainant was transferred against his wishes to a post at a lower grade, D.1, but kept grade D.2 on a personal basis. The Tribunal confirms what it said in Judgment 631 about staff Rule 570 on reduction in grade. That provision - which says that reduction in grade may result (1) from the staff member's own request, (2) from unsatisfactory performance or misconduct or (3) as an alternative to termination in a reduction inforce - applies even when the staff member keeps his own grade on a personal basis. "The organization may not require a staff member to move to a post at a lower grade against his wishes, however generous the financial compensation, unless there is compliance with Rule 570."
Organization rules reference: WHO STAFF RULE 570
ILOAT Judgment(s): 631
case law; staff regulations and rules; transfer; grade; downgrading; post; acceptance