European court orders €10K in damages for psychological abuse of EU employees
A court ordered the European Investment Bank and European Parliament to each pay €10,000 in damages to workers “who have suffered psychological harassment.”
In a ruling by the EUs General Court Friday, two former EU institution employees were found to have been subjected to psychological abuse.
The first case dealt with a former MEPs assistant, who had been denied assistance from Parliament after claiming her former employer had humiliated her through use of “scornful language, threats, insults and screams.” The assistant asked for support on grounds of psychological harassment, but Parliament rejected the request “considering that the events in question had occurred against a background of great tension between the two women.”
This assistant was fired in 2013 after Parliament terminated her contract, upon request from her employer, for not showing up to work for a week “without seeking permission.”
The second case dealt with an administrator at the EIB, who was hired in 2008. The administrator claimed a “new director had brutally halted her career progression by removing her from a position of responsibility without due cause.” By 2016 she filed a complaint with the EIB arguing this behavior constituted psychological harassment. The EIB only partially upheld the complaint, according to the ruling. While the director formally apologized, the administrator was instructed by EIB that the procedure was to remain strictly confidential, including within the institution.
Both victims were unsatisfied with the EIBs and European Parliaments responses and so brought charges to the General Court.
The court defined the abuse as “improper conduct in the form of physical behavior, spoken or written language, gestures or other acts.” It maintained that the abuse must be repetitive or systematic in order to qualify as psychological harassment and must amount to a process that “occurs over time.”
The court ruled both European institutions broke the law with this definition of psychological harassment. It deemed the MEPs behavior “improper and can in no way be regarded as an attitude befitting a Member of an EU institution,” which the Parliament failed to rectify.
Similarly, the EIB was not allowed to “impose a level of confidentiality on its decision” as this prevented the victim of psychological abuse from receiving any tangible benefits. The court also found the EIB guilty of inadequately investigating the director concerned.