Judgment No. 4171
1. The decisions of 27 November 2015 taken by the Director-General of UNESCO on the complainant’s appeals against the decisions of 12 October 2012 closing the cases concerning her internal complaints of moral harassment are set aside.
2. The Organization shall pay the complainant 10,000 euros in moral damages.
3. It shall also pay her 750 euros in costs.
4. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant challenges the decisions to dismiss her internal complaints of moral harassment.
complaint allowed; decision quashed; harassment; duty of care
The complainant has filed five complaints against five decisions of the Director-General of UNESCO, all dated 27 November 2015, and asks that they be joined. In the fifth, sixth and seventh complaints concerning the moral harassment allegedly suffered by the complainant, the facts are closely interconnected. Moreover, in these three complaints, the Tribunal will examine the same pleas. It is therefore convenient to join them so that they may form the subject of a single judgment.
However, the third and fourth complaints, which have also led to judgments delivered in public this day, deal with different matters and raise distinct legal questions that merit individual examination. Accordingly they will not be joined to the three complaints which are the subject of the present judgment.
[T]he Tribunal will rely on the findings of the Appeals Board and, since no manifest error is apparent, will take for established the facts as the Board ascertained them. As the Tribunal has stated in its case law, an internal appeals body plays a fundamental role in the resolution of disputes, owing to the guarantees of objectivity derived from its composition, its extensive knowledge of the functioning of the organisation and the investigative powers granted to it. It gathers the evidence and testimonies that are necessary in order to establish the facts, as well as the data needed for an informed assessment thereof (see, for example, Judgments 2295, consideration 10, and 3424, consideration 11).
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2295, 3424
internal appeals body; internal appeal; judicial review
It is firmly established in the case law that the person alleging harassment bears the burden of proving the allegation (see Judgments 2745, consideration 20, 3347, consideration 8, 3692, consideration 18, and 3871, consideration 12).
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2745, 3347, 3692, 3871
burden of proof; harassment
[Internal] provisions simply apply the duty of care, to which the complainant also refers, owed by all international organisations. In its case law, the Tribunal has emphasised that the relations between an international organisation and its staff members must be governed by good faith, respect, transparency and consideration for their dignity (see Judgment 1479, consideration 12). An organisation must therefore treat its staff with proper consideration and avoid causing them undue injury. It must care for the dignity of its staff members and not cause them unnecessary personal distress and disappointment where this could be avoided (see, for example, Judgments 1756, consideration 10(a), and 3353, consideration 26). As the Tribunal held in Judgment 2524, an international organisation has a duty to provide a safe and adequate environment for its staff (see also Judgment 2706, consideration 5).
ILOAT Judgment(s): 1479, 1756, 2706, 3353
respect for dignity; duty of care
Even though the charge of harassment cannot stand, an international organisation fails in its duty to treat staff members with dignity and avoid causing them undue and unnecessary injury if the organisation is aware of an unhealthy working atmosphere in the service where a staff member works but allows it to remain without taking adequate measures to remedy the situation (see, to this effect, Judgment 2067, considerations 16 and 17).
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2067
good faith; organisation's duties; duty to inform; respect for dignity; patere legem; harassment; duty of care
[D]ifficult working conditions and an affront to the complainant’s dignity caused her moral injury. In light of the lack of care with which, according to the evidence, the Organization treated her in this matter, the Tribunal considers it appropriate to award her [...] compensation under this head.