His dismissal was disproportionate, argued a dismissed teacher in his complaint to the administrative court.
The teacher, who has been employed part-time since 2006, has violated his duty of loyalty to the principle set out in the 2020 warning of the strict separation of private views and professional function. This emerges from the judgment of the administrative court published on Wednesday.
This behavioral deficiency appeared during the probationary period. Therefore, there is a factual reason for dismissal according to the cantonal law on the employment of teachers (GAL).
Teacher is said to have participated in an illegal demo
The cantonal education department supported the resignation of the teacher, who gained a certain level of fame in Aargau as a corona critic. Among other things, he appeared as a speaker in February 2021 in Wohlen at the demonstration against the Corona measures.
The termination was disproportionate, the teacher argued in his complaint to the administrative court. All of the alleged statements and activities fell within the scope of freedom of expression. He also appeared at the demonstration in Wohlen primarily as a private person.
The school had already warned the teacher in September 2020 for unprofessional behavior. It was said that he did not strictly distinguish between his private concerns and his professional tasks.
In May 2020, he took part in an illegal demonstration with around 300 people. The man had also campaigned for the referendum on the Covid 19 law from his business email address in a mass mailing to all around 120 teachers.
Trust “sensitively endangered”
In its 33-page judgment, the administrative court stated that the plaintiff’s behavior showed that he “did not do justice to his role model function as a teacher”. The behavior was easily suitable to damage the reputation and credibility of his employer and the school as a cantonal institution in public.
In doing so, he also “sensibly endangered” the confidence of the students and their parents in the proper exercise of their professional duties. It must therefore be seriously doubted that the school was credibly able to implement the applicable protective measures.
As a teacher, he appeared uncompromising in public and encouraged people to disregard the measures ordered by the authorities. The teacher was aware of the threat of dismissal and explained this in his speech at the rally in Wohlen.
Reminds of loyalty
According to the administrative court, the plaintiff did not shy away from using insults to denigrate an incumbent member of the Federal Council in his speech archived on YouTube. He called Federal Councilor Alain Berset “sick”.
He also made a bad choice of words and portrayed those who violated the Covid 19 regulations as role models. However, as a teacher employed at a cantonal school, the plaintiff can and must be expected to present an exemplary public image.
The Administrative Court recalls that the Federal Constitution gives everyone the right to freely form their opinion and to express and disseminate it without hindrance. The duty of loyalty to public employees could restrict freedom of expression.
Duty of loyalty means that the person employed under public law protects the interests of the community in the fulfillment of their task beyond the actual work, as explained by the administrative court. The purpose of the duty of loyalty is to ensure the proper functioning of the public administration by not undermining the public’s trust in the state.
Restrictions on freedom of expression based on the duty of loyalty are only permissible if they are objectively justified and are in reasonable proportion to their purpose. According to the Federal Supreme Court, public criticism is not ruled out in principle, but the duty of loyalty requires the employee to exert a certain restraint, especially in the manner of criticism. (SDA)