Judgment No. 4261
1. The EPO shall pay the complainant moral damages in the sum of 10,000 euros.
2. The EPO shall pay the complainant costs in the sum of 6,000 euros.
3. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant challenges the withdrawal of a decision to assign her additional duties on a temporary basis.
respect for dignity; distress; complaint dismissed
Consistent with the Tribunal’s case law, the express decision in relation to this particular grievance can be treated as the impugned decision (see, for example, Judgment 3356, considerations 15 and 16).
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 3356
This complaint [...] is the first of six complaints filed by the complainant that are presently before the Tribunal. Neither the complainant nor the EPO sought the joinder of this complaint with the other five. While each of the six complaints broadly relates to the same continuum of events with one of the central characters being VP1, mainly each concerns discrete events and each raises different legal issues. [...] This first complaint will not be joined with any of the others, consistent with the Tribunal’s case law (see, for example, Judgment 4114, consideration 2) with, additionally, the benefit of creating greater focus on the relevant facts and applicable law attending this complaint and each of the other complaints.
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 4114
The fact that a managerial decision was taken in the interests of the service and under time pressure is not inherently incompatible with it also being an act of retaliation. Very often a managerial decision involves choices between courses of action. The adoption of a course of action because it is in the interests of the service, may also be intended, at least in part, as an act of retaliation.
organisation's interest; retaliation
If a complainant alleges that a decision was not taken in good faith or was taken for an improper purpose, she or he bears the burden of establishing the lack of good faith, bias or improper purpose (see, for example, Judgments 4146, consideration 10, 3743, consideration 12, and 2472, consideration 9). It is a serious allegation that must be clearly substantiated.
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 2472, 3743, 4146
burden of proof; bias; bad faith
It is a well-established principle in the Tribunal’s case law, as was recently stated in Judgment 4178, consideration 14, citing Judgment 3353, consideration 26, that “[a]n organisation must care for the dignity of its staff members and not cause them unnecessary personal distress and disappointment where this could be avoided”. In the present case the complainant, who held a senior position within the EPO, agreed to take on additional duties subject to certain conditions a significant number of which were directed towards relieving her of some of the burdens of doing so. The complainant received unqualified assurances that her conditions concerning support would be met. The fact that she would take on those additional duties was made known widely within the Organisation. It cannot be doubted, in the Tribunal’s opinion, that the abandoning of this arrangement because the unqualified assurances could, in fact, not be met would have caused the complainant considerable distress and disappointment, particularly having regard to the fact that the arrangement had been widely publicised within the Organisation. The complainant is entitled to moral damages[.]
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 3353, 4178
moral injury; respect for dignity; distress
The complainant also sought punitive damages for the delay in the internal appeal process. On no basis would punitive damages be awarded.