When your Employer Suspects that you are a Communist…

Wang Fengbosee interview – and his colleague Zhu Hong lost their cases at the Higher Labor Court Cologne (Landesarbeitsgericht Köln, LAG) on Monday (February 13). They had sued their [former] employer, Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) for  discrimination, a case which the court rejected. There is no written opinion from the court yet, but according to an EPD (Evangelischer Pressedienst) report, the judge viewed the way Deutsche Welle accepted findings of an investigation by Ulrich Wickert in 2009 as evidence in Deutsche Welle’s favor.

Wickert had investigated allegations from Chinese dissidents and German authors, in 2008, that Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department had been “CCP-friendly”, and came to the conclusion that the allegations were completely unfounded. Back then, Deutsche Welle director Erik Bettermann told a Süddeutsche Zeitung reporter who inquired about the report that Wickert’s work had been “great”, but added that he didn’t want to publish Wickert’s report, as he didn’t want “to revive the China debate again”.

The court saw Deutsche Welle support for Wickert’s findings as evidence that there was no discrimination for ideological reasons. According to the plaintiffs, Deutsche Welle rejected the 2008 allegations against the DW Chinese department in public, but put the dissidents’ and other critics’ demands into practice, all the same.

Although there had actually been no allegation from Deutsche Welle that the plaintiffs were “communists”, the judge addressed this issue, saying that once Deutsche Welle, as a public broadcaster (Anstalt des öffentlichen Rechts) suspected an employee of being a communist or a supporter of national socialism, this was a sufficient reason to terminate the employment, EPD quotes the judge. The judgment is appealable.

Anstalt des öffentlichen Rechts is probably best translated as an independent public institution, and as I understand it, the issue may therefore affect employees in many other institutions with public or municipal tasks, too.

Advertisements

12 Responses to “When your Employer Suspects that you are a Communist…”

  1. I had understood that the Berufsverbot remained in force in at least a few lande, but that it was probably not enforceable following a decision in the European Court of Human Rights. Yet here we seem to see a German court saying, at least according to the above description, that ideology alone (and not even membership of ‘anti constitutional groups’) could be a valid reason for dismissal. Or am I misreading things?

    Like

  2. We might both be misreading things, but my understanding so far has been that you can’t apply the Berufsverbot (the formal term would be Radikalenerlass, I believe) unless an investigation has been carried out.

    It looks strange to me, for many reasons. For one, a mere suspicion as a reason to fire someone is likely to encourage a culture of blackening competitors in an institution, for the sake of ones own career, and it would be a very handy tool to get rid of whomever you want to get rid of, in an öffentlich-rechtliche Anstalt.

    I heard about the judge’s decision and her explanation earlier this week, but hesitated to blog about it – I found it hard to believe that she said this, and wouldn’t have made my mind up about it before Monday, if there hadn’t been the EPD report (published on Friday).

    It’s apparently not Deutsche Welle who mentioned “communism” in the context of Zhu’s or Wang’s case, and I’m wondering why the judge did. I’m not really surprised that it was on peoples’ minds – after all, the dissidents and authors who stirred the Welle up in 2008, with the “Zhang-Danhong affair”, suspected that there could be “communists” at work at DW – but that hadn’t become an issue again after Wickert‘s findings, as far as I can see. Not until this week, that is.

    2008 reloaded?

    Like

  3. “Although there had actually been no allegation from Deutsche Welle that the plaintiffs were “communists”, the judge addressed this issue, saying that once Deutsche Welle, as a public broadcaster (Anstalt des öffentlichen Rechts) suspected an employee of being a communist or a supporter of national socialism, this was a sufficient reason to terminate the employment, EPD quotes the judge.”

    Awesome.

    “Politische Correctness kann sehr billig sein.” (JR)
    http://www.doppelpod.com/?p=2006&lang=de

    Or expensive.

    Like

  4. Politische Correctness kann sehr billig sein. (JR)

    Context:

    Political correctness can be cheap. Obviously, it is unacceptable that Chinese people or Chinese-German couples are put under general suspicion [of espionage]. However, it should be obvious that there are situations where Chinese people need courage and tactical skills to evade pressure to spy – a problem that only exists for Europeans when they can be blackmailed. This may less palpable among academics than in business, but whoever ignores these circumstances merely because they are unsavory, will do so at his own risk.

    Like

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: