In December 2013, the European Civil Service Tribunal (ECST) ruled in favour of an Accredited Parliamentary Assistant (APA), who, supported by Union Syndicale, introduced an appeal against the European Parliament (EP) on grounds of moral harassment by her supervisor, an influential MEP. (Case F-129/12
In its decision, the ECST has annulled the assistant’s illegal dismissal, as well as the Parliament’s refusal to assist her in accordance with Article 24 of the Staff Regulations (which states that “The Union shall assist any official, in particular in proceedings against any person perpetrating threats, insulting or defamatory acts or utterances, or any attack to person or property to which he or a member of his family is subjected by reason of his position or duties.”).
The European Parliament refuses to implement these requirements and to examine the complaint of moral harassment against the MEP. By acting in this manner, the EP has ignored the requests made by the ECST. The first request is that the EP should conduct an administrative investigation, and cross-examine the MEP (and others). The second is that the assistant should be reinstated and continue to benefit from her rights and privileges. However, this assistant continues to be denied access to the EP buildings, the intranet and her work e-mail account. In this way, the EP has prevented this assistant from actively seeking another post within the EP. As a result she has had to lodge a new complaint on the grounds of the non-implementation of the ECST’s decision of December 2013. The EP has failed to comply with the Tribunal’s requests, and has thus cast doubt on its legitimacy.
To make matters worse, the EP has rejected for a second time a request for assistance (pursuant to Art. 24 of the Staff Regulations) by another APA, as regards a complaint of moral harassment by the same MEP (as in case F-129/12). In February 2013 this assistant lodged a formal complaint, in which he submitted specific details of moral harassment. The EP did not respond. The failure of the EP to respond to this assistant’s distress led to the latter’s resignation in September 2013. The assistant has recently lodged an appeal with the ECST requesting that the EP’s decision to reject his request for assistance be overruled. Union Syndicale is supporting this assistant in his efforts to seek legal redress against the EP.
Union Syndicale believes that the EP should behave in an exemplary manner, particularly as regards the protection of fundamental rights and the rights of its own employees. We are convinced that the vast majority of MEPs treat their assistants respectfully. However, a small number of MEPs seriously fail in this regard. The EP must do everything in its power to investigate the allegations and ensure that these MEPs are held to account. It is unacceptable that the European Parliament ignores the decisions of the Courts of the European Union. These decisions state the obvious: respect of the law is a necessity and vital for the protection of assistants. Assistants must not be regarded as second-class citizens within this Institution.
Union Syndicale asks the EP to establish a truly independent Committee to carry out investigations on complaints of moral and/or sexual harassment at work. This Committee should consist of independent experts, external to this Institution. It should have the authority to interview all concerned parties, especially MEPs. The Committee should report to the EP Secretary-General. Its conclusions should be adopted by the EP, regardless of whether or not an MEP is implicated. In our view, this is the only fair, respectful and effective means of investigating complaints of moral and/or sexual harassment at work. This is in the interests of all parties concerned, regardless of grade and title.