Judgment No. 2720
1. The impugned decision of the Secretary-General of the ITU is set aside.
2. The ITU shall pay the complainant damages in the amount of 20,000 Swiss francs in compensation for the injury suffered.
3. It shall pay the complainant exemplary damages in the amount of 10,000 francs for having circulated a defamatory message concerning him following the delivery of a previous Tribunal judgment, and for having thereby violated, inter alia, the free exercise of the right to a judicial means of redress.
4. The ITU is ordered to circulate the text of the present judgment to the whole of its staff in accordance with the terms set out under 17.
5. The Union shall pay the complainant 2,000 francs in costs.
6. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant alleges that the ITU, in its letter to the journalist, made "scandalous" attacks on the Tribunal. "The Tribunal will not respond to the arguments presented in the complaint regarding prejudice that it allegedly suffered itself as a result of the circulation of the disputed message. The issue raised in this regard, which has no direct bearing on the dispute between the complainant and the ITU regarding compliance with obligations arising from their contractual relationship, falls outside the Tribunal's jurisdiction, as restrictively defined in Article II of its Statute. Furthermore, the Tribunal could not rule on such arguments without breaching its duty of impartiality."
ILOAT reference: Article II of the Statute
injury; lack of injury; competence of tribunal; vested competence; organisation's duties; iloat statute; staff member's duties
Following the delivery of Judgment 2540, a journalist wished to write an article on the case. Concerned to protect itself from the risk that its image might be harmed, the Union sent a letter to the journalist and to the ITU staff, together with a "Summary of Facts", presenting its own version of the case which was highly tendentious. "This fallacious presentation of the facts of the case is all the less acceptable when one considers that the facts in question were the subject of findings by the Tribunal in Judgment 2540. According to the Tribunal's case law, such findings, by virtue of the res judicata rule, are no longer open to challenge and are therefore binding on both parties as true statements of fact (see Judgment 1540, under 7)."
ILOAT Judgment(s): 1540, 2540
"Of course the ITU, which had fulfilled its obligation to execute Judgment 2540, had every right to circulate comments that were critical of that judicial ruling [...]. In so doing, however, the Union was not entitled [...] to challenge the findings of fact made in that judgment, which had res judicata authority; nor was it entitled, above all, to harm the complainant's honour and reputation by defamatory statements."
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2540
res judicata; judgment of the tribunal; execution of judgment; organisation's duties; respect for dignity
"[W]here a judgment has been rendered against an international organisation in a dispute with one of its staff members, the circulation after delivery of the said judgment of a message defaming the complainant constitutes a very serious breach of the obligations incumbent on the organisation in its relations with its staff members. Such conduct disregards not only the [...] duty to respect the staff member's dignity and reputation but also - and this is an even more serious matter - the duty to safeguard the free exercise of his right to file a complaint with the Tribunal, which implies, inter alia, that the success of such a complaint shall not entail punitive or retaliatory measures against him."
complaint; right of appeal; judgment of the tribunal; organisation's duties; respect for dignity; breach; safeguard
"The complainant [...] requests the Tribunal to order the ITU to send a new e-mail to all staff, after delivery of the present judgment, retracting the content of the e-mail circulated on 26 July 2006. As the circulation of such an e-mail does indeed appear to be the only way of ensuring that the present judgment fully serves the purpose of safeguarding the complainant's honour and reputation vis-à-vis the ITU staff, the Tribunal considers that, under the circumstances, this request should be granted."
claim; judgment of the tribunal; compensation
As the Tribunal has consistently held, for instance in Judgments 396, 1875, 2371 and 2475, international organisations are bound to refrain from any type of conduct that may harm the dignity or reputation of their staff members. This duty, which flows from the general principles governing the international civil service, is also applicable as a matter of course to former staff members of an organisation.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 396, 1875, 2371, 2475
good faith; respect for dignity; duty of care