Judgment No. 4148
1. The Director-Generalís decision of 28 April 2017 is set aside, as is the Administrationís earlier decision of 22 December 2015.
2. WHO shall pay the complainant all salary and emoluments which she lost as a result of the imposition of the disciplinary measure, together with interest at the rate of 5 per cent per annum from the date that the suspension without pay was imposed.
3. WHO shall pay the complainant 7,000 euros in costs.
4. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant contests the decision to impose on her the disciplinary measure of suspension without pay for five working days.
complaint allowed; decision quashed; disciplinary measure; suspension; freedom of association
If comments by a staff member made in the context of a debate about employment matters are defamatory of another staff member (in the sense that the comments have injured a personís reputation or tarnished her or his good name), the fact that they are defamatory does not, by itself, deny the staff member making the comments the protection afforded by the principle of freedom of association. So much is apparent from the observations of the Tribunal in Judgment 3106, consideration 9. In that judgment the Tribunal noted in consideration 8 (citing Judgment 274, consideration 22) that the existence of a freedom of discussion and debate, inherent in the freedom of association, can have the consequence that when feelings run strong the discussion and debate can spill over into extravagant and even regrettable language. There are, of course, limits on the freedom of discussion and debate that the Tribunal noted in consideration 8 of Judgment 3106. In the present case, the GBA and the Director-General did take into account the complainantís right to freedom of expression within the umbrella of the freedom of association but found that the language was inappropriate. However, the complainant clearly had strong and not obviously illegitimate views about the procedure finally adopted involving the use of the Clinical Attendance Memo form and the role of the President of the Staff Association as a member of the working group. The complainant was able to criticise him and was not obliged to do so, within the umbrella of the freedom of discussion and debate inherent in the freedom of association, in entirely temperate or polite language. The Tribunal is satisfied that what the complainant said was comprehended by her right to freedom of association and was thus not misconduct.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 274, 3106
freedom of speech; freedom of association; defamation