The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) has annulled the dismissal of the scriptwriter who in an RTVE program used the label “Leonor is leaving Spain, like her grandfather” to illustrate the information about the Princess’s studies abroad, in reference to the stay of the King Emeritus in Abu Dhabi.
The sentence of the Social Chamber, notified this Wednesday, revokes a first judicial decision that supported the dismissal. On the other hand, as the lawyer Esther Comas from the office of Colectivo Ronda claimed, the TSJ orders the worker to be reinstated and to pay him the wages since dismissal, as well as to compensate him with 10,000 euros for moral damages.
The First Section of the Social recognizes that the label used in the magazine La Hora de la 1 was “a clearly inappropriate and impertinent note, which far from contributing something to the news, clouded and overshadowed it”, and that it was also “biased”, but considers that “it did not contain any expression with an objectively insulting or humiliating meaning towards the Princess, whose honesty was not really in question”.
“The expression used is not likely to be taken into account in the public concept as outrageous, even though subjectively certain people may consider it so. On the other hand, neither from the literal tenor of the label nor from the context […] can it be deduced from well-founded and logical way that its insertion would have a negative effect on the prestige of the Institution”, consider the three magistrates.
The sentence recalls the doctrine of the Constitutional Court regarding the fact that “the conclusion of an employment contract does not imply, in any way, the deprivation for one of the parties, the worker, of the rights that the Constitution recognizes as a citizen” . And then he considers the scriptwriter’s right to freedom of expression violated by the dismissal at the request of RTVE, who formally worked for the production company Mediatso SL., but it was RTVE that really organized the work.
“Notwithstanding the critical judgment that the label may deserve due to its simplistic, crude and tendentious nature, it did not transgress the limits of the right to freedom of expression admissible in the employment relationship.”
The dismissal was accompanied by a statement from the management of RTVE that said: “The sole Provisional Administrator of RTVE, Rosa María Mateo, deeply regrets the serious error that occurred this morning during the broadcast of the program La hora de La 1 and has adopted immediate measures so that those responsible for this mistake are relieved of their posts”. Mateo ended up giving explanations of what happened in the Cortes.
The TSJM indicates that “it cannot be reasonably understood that through the label the probity of the Princess was really questioned, with the intention of offending”. Something that is reinforced by the inclusion of a skirt that said “the Royal House announces that the princess will attend the international baccalaureate in Wales”, something that, according to the TSJM, “clearly highlighted the meaning of the news that was being broadcast leaving no room for reasonable doubt, allowing the informative content to be clearly differentiated from the rhetorical figure”.
“The Chamber concludes that the plaintiff did not transgress the generic limits of the right to freedom of expression imposed by due respect for other fundamental rights worthy of protection and, in particular, the right to honor, nor the specifically applicable restrictions within the framework of an employment relationship, for which reason his actions remained within the scope constitutionally protected against the disciplinary power of the employer”.
Finally, the High Court underlines “the greater margin of permissibility and tolerance of citizens and institutions regarding comments referring to the royal family.”
RTVE’s dismissal letter indicated that the label had caused “enormous discomfort within the management of the Corporation of the Public Entity RTVE”, since it gave “completely distorted news” regarding what it wanted to communicate.
“As can be verified,” the dismissal letter said, “the content of the label disfigures, blurs and completely distorts the information contained in the communication from the Royal House. (…) The issuance of the aforementioned label has provoked multiple reactions of all the media, censoring the information contained in the aforementioned label and pouring harsh criticism against RTVE”.
For all these reasons, the dismissal was reported, based on the fact that the Audiovisual Production Industry Agreement indicates “fraud, disloyalty or abuse of trust in the performance of work” as very serious offenses.
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