Judgment No. 3967
1. The EPO shall pay the complainant 8,000 euros in moral damages.
2. The EPO shall pay the complainant costs in the amount of 3,000 euros.
3. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant considers that he was a victim of harassment, or at least of straining, by his director who issued a warning letter regarding his performance and set new productivity targets which he was to achieve in 2004.
complaint allowed; harassment
The EPO recalls that the Tribunal stated, in Judgment 619, consideration 1, and Judgment 1661, consideration 2, for example, that a request for oral proceedings is exceptionally granted and usually serves the purpose of gathering additional evidence, where necessary, to help to resolve issues before it and that a hearing is unnecessary where a complainant has already had ample opportunity to state her or his case. [...] It is observed that the IAC fully documented the evidence which was given at the two hearings that it conducted, the events which occurred after each hearing and the oral submissions which the legal representatives of both parties made. The Tribunal is satisfied that these, together with the documents, reports and written submissions on file, are ample and sufficiently detailed to permit it to determine the issues which arise on this complaint. The application for oral proceedings is therefore dismissed.
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 619, 1661
As the complainant did not put forward the claim for material damages mentioned in the foregoing consideration in his internal appeal, it is irreceivable under Article VII, paragraph 1, of the Tribunal’s Statute. It will be dismissed on the ground that he had failed to exhaust internal remedies in relation to that claim.
Likewise, the claim for the breach of the duty of care is also irreceivable under Article VII, paragraph 1, of the Tribunal’s Statute. It is outside the scope of the internal appeal as it was raised for the first time by the complainant in the present complaint. The complainant did not claim in the internal appeal that his director, or by extension the EPO, breached the duty of care towards him. However, the majority of the IAC, having considered that the director’s actions did not constitute an offence to the complainant’s dignity amounting to harassment, concluded that the actions complained of amounted to a breach of the director’s duty of care towards the complainant. This finding clearly went beyond the scope of the internal appeal and was not addressed in the impugned decision.
ILOAT reference: Article VII, paragraph 1, of the Statute
new claim; new plea
[T]he warning letter provided for in Section A(6) of Circular No. 246 is not an act that could be challenged before the Tribunal as it is merely a step in the process that culminates in a staff report (see Judgments 3806, consideration 6, 3697, consideration 5, 3629, consideration 3, 3512, consideration 3, and 3433, consideration 9).
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 3433, 3512, 3629, 3697, 3806
decision; step in the procedure
The claim for moral damages for the excessive delay in the internal appeal proceedings is well founded as it is clear that the EPO breached its obligation to ensure that its internal procedure moved forward with reasonable speed (see, for example, Judgment 2197, consideration 33). [...] That period of more than six years in the internal appeal proceedings constituted excessive delay, even taking into consideration the complainant’s illness and the efforts which were made to amicably settle the matter. For this, the complainant will be awarded moral damages in the amount of 8,000 euros, particularly given the length of the delay and the impact of that delay on him in his personal circumstances.
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 2197
delay; internal procedure; delay in internal procedure