Judgment 70267/17

Applicant name ŢÎMPĂU
Applicant type Natural person
Number of applicants 1
Application no. 70267/17
Date 05/12/2023
Judges Gabriele Kucsko-Stadlmayer, President,
 Faris Vehabović,
 Branko Lubarda,
 Anja Seibert-Fohr,
 Ana Maria Guerra Martins,
 Anne Louise Bormann,
 Sebastian Răduleţu
Institution Court
Type Judgment
Outcome Art. 8 No violation
Reason Necessary (rights and freedoms of others)
Type of privacy Repuational privacy; private life
Keywords Fired work; repuation
Facts of the case The applicant complained that the national courts’ refusal to examine her objections to a local Archbishop’s decision to withdraw the endorsement that he had granted to the applicant to work as a teacher of religion, resulting in the termination of her employment, violated her rights of access to court and to respect for her private life. The applicant relied expressly on Articles 6 and 9 of the Convention and in substance on Article 8.
AnalysisWhen establishing whether there was an interference, the Court reiterates that there can be either of three elements at state: (i) her “inner circle”, (ii) her opportunities to establish and develop relationships with others, or (iii) her reputation. As regards the consequences of the disputed dismissal for the applicant’s “inner circle”, the Court reiterates that this point has to be viewed as relating to the worsening of the material well-being of the applicant and her family. In this connection, it is sufficient to note that the applicant lost her job, that is to say, her livelihood.  As regards the applicant’s ability to forge and maintain relationships with others, the Court observes that the termination of her employment and the reasons behind it made her ineligible to work as a teacher of the Orthodox religion not only in the school she was working for but also in any other public or private school in the county where she lived.  Finally, as regards whether the disputed measure infringed the applicant’s reputation so as to seriously diminish the esteem in which she was held and to have a severe impact on her social relations, the Court merely refers to its findings concerning the grounds for the withdrawal of the Archbishop’s endorsement which ultimately led to her dismissal, that is, the applicant’s alleged professional failings and misconduct, which were said to undermine the proper functioning of the school. Such an assessment undoubtedly had repercussions for the applicant’s professional and social reputation. Measuring the applicant’s subjective perceptions against the objective background and assessing the pecuniary and non‑pecuniary impact of her dismissal, the Court concludes that the measure in question had repercussions on the applicant’s private life which were serious enough to reach the threshold of severity for an issue to be raised under Article 8.

Referring to its Fernández Martínez case, it notes that the relevant factors to be taken into account when balancing the right to respect for private life with the State’s duty to protect the autonomy of a Church, in cases where the employment of a teacher of religion was terminated because the Church deemed that he or she was no longer suitable for that position, include the following: the status of the applicant; the exposure of the applicant’s situation; the State’s responsibility as an employer; the severity of the sanction; and the review by the domestic courts. As to the first point, the Court sees no reason to believe that at the time of the events leading to the present case that contractual duty of loyalty and the associated professional and disciplinary constraints had ceased to exist. As to the second point, the Court considers that the fact that no publicity was given to the conduct that was seen by the Church as being contrary to the precepts of its teachings and doctrine is not a decisive element in the assessment of the consequences of the decision to terminate the applicant’s employment. As to the third point, the Court notes that an applicant’s employer was under no legal obligation to even consider the possibility of providing the applicant with another post within the school and that it sees no reason therefore to doubt that the efforts made by the head of the school to consider such a possibility were genuine. Fourth, it finds that it cannot be said that the consequences of the decision to terminate the applicant’s contract were excessive in the circumstances of the case. As to the final point, the Court finds that the domestic courts took all relevant factors into account and that they weighed up the interests at stake within the limits imposed on them by the need to respect the autonomy of the Orthodox Church.
Other Article violation? No violation 6 and 9 ECHR
Damage awarded
Documents Judgment