Judgment No. 3447
The complaint is dismissed.
The Tribunal dismissed the complaint as the complainant failed to establish that harassment had occurred.
harassment; complaint dismissed
"[T]he complainant submits that the investigation took over nine months to complete and that this constitutes an excessive delay. The Tribunal finds that harassment cases in particular should be treated as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to protect staff members from unnecessary suffering, but attention must also be paid to thoroughness and procedure (see Judgment 2642, under 8). In the present case, the Tribunal is of the opinion that nine months to complete a harassment investigation is by no means excessive considering the length of the grievance itself and the over 300 annexes attached to be considered."
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2642
procedure before the tribunal; delay; inquiry; harassment; investigation
"With regard to the claims against the JAAB’s analysis of the investigation, the Tribunal recalls that it will only interfere in the case of a manifest error in the JAAB’s assessment of the facts (see Judgment 2295, under 10). Though it has read and considered all the elements submitted to it, the Tribunal will not reweigh the evidence that was presented to the JAAB. The complainant’s plea concerning the absence of oral hearings is unfounded. As the Tribunal stated in Judgment 2893, under 5, in relevant part: “the general principles applicable to […] an appeal body [do not] require that a complainant be given an opportunity to present oral submissions in person or through a representative. As the Tribunal has already had occasion to state in Judgment 623, all that the right to a hearing requires is that the complainant should be free to put his case, either in writing or orally; the appeal body is not obliged to offer him both possibilities.” (See also Judgment 3023, under 11.) The complainant was indeed allowed to submit her written appeal in full, and in fact she also attached hundreds of annexes to be considered. The Tribunal finds that to be more than sufficient opportunity to present her case and considers that the JAAB was fully informed about the case and did not need to grant her request for oral proceedings."
ILOAT Judgment(s): 623, 2295, 2893, 3023
internal appeals body; internal appeal; appraisal of evidence
Considerations 9 and 11
In its detailed report, the JAAB clearly referred to the complainant’s numerous submissions and allegations and demonstrated in its findings and conclusions that it had indeed understood and considered all the evidence before it, but that it simply found no flaw in the investigation procedure nor in the conclusion that no harassment had occurred. The complainant does not provide persuasive evidence to show that the JAAB’s findings, or the procedure, suffered any material flaw. “Consistent case law holds that ‘harassment and mobbing do not require malice or intent, but that behaviour cannot be considered as harassment or mobbing if there is a reasonable explanation for it’ […]. The complainant did not show that the [JAAB’s] finding and conclusions involved any reviewable error. The situations and events that she cites as examples of mobbing and harassment cannot be considered as such because there is a reasonable explanation for each example.” (See Judgment 3192, under 15.) It is clear from the submissions of both parties, that the situations which the complainant perceived as harassment were quite reasonably explained by the managerial necessities of the Organization. Essentially, the conflict that resulted in the allegations of harassment lay in the poor working relationships that existed between the complainant and other members of the ILO/AIDS team.
[T]he Tribunal concludes that the complainant has failed to establish that harassment has occurred and finds that there was no manifest error in the JAAB’s weighing of the evidence. The working relations were tense, but not due to misconduct or abnormal behaviour by the complainant’s superiors. It should be noted that the situation could have been avoided if management had been more sensitive to the complainant’s personal needs and history when dealing with her requests and formulating their replies. However, the Tribunal recognises that it is not always possible to cater to the needs of each individual employee, as the product or result of the work being done is often justifiably considered a higher priority over the individual’s personal interests, and therefore it cannot declare that any breach of care has occurred (see for example Judgments 2587, under 10, and 3192, under 22).
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2587, 3192
internal appeals body; report; harassment