In the district court, the employer Papillon argued that Rianne Vogels damaged their reputation with her activity on social media, and that they could therefore fire her.
The court had to decide on a central question: Where is the limit for what one can express on Twitter?
It was in March last year that Rianne Vogels was fired from the organisation Papillon. The reason was that she had spoken out about transgender people on Twitter.
After the dismissal, she chose to sue her former employer for unfair dismissal.
Now the district court has decided that the dismissal of Rianne Vogels is invalid.
It sends a clear signal to Norwegian workers, the manager believes The Freedom of Expression Commission, Kjersti Løken Stavrum.
– This judgment has a lot to say because there is a dangerously high level of uncertainty in working life in Norway today. Many people are reluctant to participate in debates because they are afraid of the consequences.
She believes the verdict can help improve that situation, because it sends a clear signal to those who are unsure whether they have freedom of expression as employees.
The employer is considering appealing
Papillon must pay NOK 60,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal to Vogels, in addition to the legal costs of NOK 537,514.
It was BT who mentioned the judgment first.
– I am happy with this verdict. We were supported on all points, and it was as we expected, says Vogels to NRK.
She was previously head of strategy and finance at Papillon. She also believes the verdict sends a clear signal.
– For employees, it is important to be able to participate in ongoing social debates, also on demanding topics, says Vogels to NRK.
According to themselves, the organization aims to empower cross-cultural, young girls and women to make their own choices and to be a meeting place for networking and guidance.
Trine Lise Fromreide is a partner in the law firm Simonsen Vogt Wiig. She represented Papillon in the court case.
She says they will definitely consider appealing.
– We see that the judgment does not mention important parts of the evidence as to why Papillon has given employees the opportunity to change their activity. In addition, we do not agree on the labor law assessments that emerge from the judgment on this point, says Fromreide.
Refers to the fact that they disagree that the court believes Papillon must order the employee to change his activity before they can dismiss the person concerned.
She also points out that they are happy that Papillon has been heard in the judgement.
– The court states that it will be directly destructive for Papillon’s activity with persons in its ranks who are perceived as prejudiced and non-inclusive.
The employer was notified
In court, several of Vogel’s Twitter messages were presented, in addition to shares or “likes” of others’ statements.
Among other things, Vogels had expressed himself critically about hormonal treatment of children who identify as a different gender than their biological sex.
One of the tweets Vogels had interacted with depicted how a “male pimp” was named a women’s rights advocate by an American fashion magazine.
This was brought forward by Papillon’s lawyers. They emphasized that the person concerned identified herself as a woman, but was still referred to as a man in the tweet.
When Papillon fired Vogels, they pointed out that she had chosen to go public and take a stand on transgender issues in a way that they believed had to be seen as disloyal to the employer and the core values of the organization.
In February 2022, Vogels created an account on the controversial platform Gettr which was launched in June 2021.
She explained that she mostly started following women who had participated in the gender debate on Twitter, but who had been banned from it.
She never published anything herself and deleted the account after eleven hours.
Nevertheless, Papillon received a notification by e-mail from a “Ron Scofield” that Vogles had registered on Gettr. He also reported that she had written messages making fun of transgender people on Twitter.
It was this notice that started the dialogue as still in the termination.
Daily leader in Papillon, Leila Rezzouk said in court that they understood that the statements were exclusionary.
– We saw this as very serious for the reputation of the organisation, she said when she explained herself.
Vogels said that she did not feel comfortable in the depiction of exclusionary statements.
She thought her statements were mostly “knowledge-seeking and knowledge-sharing”.
The trial lasted four days in Bergen in March this year.
– A similar judgment in Great Britain has gained great importance for both employers and employees, says Vogels and refers to the British researcher Maya Forstater.
In 2019, it became known that Forstater was not allowed to renew her employment contract due to Twitter statements that biological sex cannot be changed, and thus whether trans women can be considered women.
Last year, The Guardian wrote that Forstater won in the second round in court.
Tags: Rianne Vogels fired Papillon speaking transgender people dismissal illegal NRK Vestland-