Judgment No. 3917
1. WHO shall pay the complainant material damages in the amount of 40,000 United States dollars.
2. WHO shall pay the complainant moral damages in the amount of 20,000 United States dollars.
3. WHO shall also pay the complainant costs in the amount of 5,000 United States dollars.
4. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant challenges the decision to terminate his continuing appointment pursuant to the abolition of his post.
complaint allowed; permanent appointment; abolition of post; termination of employment
The Tribunal recalls that it has consistently held that the principle of equal treatment requires, on the one hand, that officials in identical or similar situations be subject to the same rules and, on the other, that officials in dissimilar situations be governed by different rules defined so as to take account of this dissimilarity (see, for example, Judgments 1990, under 7, 2194, under 6(a), 2313, under 5, 3029, under 14, or 3787, under 3). With regard to reassignment, WHO Headquarters staff are not in an identical or similar situation to non-Headquarters staff.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 1990, 2194, 2313, 3029, 3787
[W]hile the Organization established a reassignment committee – the GRC – in order to reclassify the staff members whose posts had been abolished, there is no evidence that the Committee met with the complainant. The Tribunal’s case law has it that administrative bodies have the duty to explore all existing reassignment options with the person in question (see Judgments 2902, under 14, 3439, under 9, and 3755, under 9). In this case, the complainant had no opportunity to participate in the reassignment process. The Tribunal therefore considers that WHO breached its obligations.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2902, 3439, 3755
duty to inform; abolition of post; reassignment
The Tribunal recalls that when an organization has to abolish a position occupied by a staff member holding a continuous appointment, it has a duty to do all that it can to reassign that person, as a matter of priority, to another post matching her or his abilities and grade. The staff member in question may therefore claim to be appointed to any vacant post which she or he is capable of filling in a competent manner, regardless of the qualifications of the other candidates (see Judgment 133). If the attempt to find such a post proves fruitless, it is up to the organisation, if the staff member concerned agrees, to try to place her or him in duties at a lower grade and to widen its search accordingly (see Judgments 1782, under 11, 2830, under 9, and 3755, under 6).
The written submissions show that the complainant’s qualifications and professional experience made him eligible for assignment to three vacant posts. The fact that numerous posts at AFRO were abolished is not in itself a valid reason for not reassigning the complainant.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 133, 1782, 2830, 3755
abolition of post; reorganisation; duty of care
WHO implicitly extended the reassignment period. Even though there is no established time limit within which a decision on reassignment must be taken following the end of the reassignment period, the Organization cannot wait more than three months before informing the person concerned of the decision. By doing so in this case, WHO failed to observe the time limit for the complainant’s reassignment pursuant to the Staff Rules and thus violated the principle of tu patere legem quam ipse fecisti (see, for example, Judgment 2170, under 14). The complainant is therefore entitled to compensation for moral injury.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2170
time limit; patere legem; reassignment