The young woman has been working for prison organization DJI as a complex security guard in the penitentiary institution in Alphen aan den Rijn since the autumn of 2019.
At the end of December 2020, the woman fell ill after a violent incident in which a prisoner died of a stomach hemorrhage. Three months later she worked half days again.
During the reintegration, her supervisor discovered that the security guard had applied internally for a more demanding position. Since that surprised him, he asked her if it was wise.
The woman denied applying for a job, claiming that a male colleague had done so on her behalf.
Relationship with colleague
The manager then asked the colleague, who denied it. According to the man, the security guard accused him because they had had a relationship, which he would have broken up with.
When the manager asked the woman for clarification, she denied that there had been a relationship. She was subsequently suspended and an investigation launched. Her emails revealed that the woman had indeed had a relationship with the colleague, whose own wife also worked in prison.
Dismissal for lying
The prison organization then went to court to dismiss the woman. According to her employer, she had not fulfilled the promise made in her oath of office to be ‘careful, incorruptible and reliable’. Moreover, ‘extra high integrity requirements’ could be imposed on a prison guard.
The employer emphasized that he did not want to fire the woman because of the relationship. That would have only resulted in a reprimand. However, according to the DJI, the fact that the woman had not reported the relationship to her supervisor and had even lied about it later was a reason for dismissal.
However, a ruling that became public yesterday shows that the subdistrict court judge in The Hague thinks otherwise.
The judge does find that the security guard acted wrong, by denying her application and not reporting her relationship with her colleague. The argument that the relationship was a private matter that she did not have to report was therefore dismissed.
Affective relationships in the workplace can disrupt mutual relationships in the workplace and hinder the proper performance of work, which can lead to unsafe situations.
No reason for dismissal
Nevertheless, the subdistrict court judge does not think that the woman acted so seriously culpable that she should be fired.
According to the subdistrict court, there are mitigating circumstances for the denial of the application and the relationship with the colleague. For example, the security guard was unexpectedly addressed by her supervisor while she was still recovering.
In addition, it was difficult to speak openly about the relationship, because the colleague’s wife also worked in prison.
The bottom line is that the prison organization cannot fire the security guard and must allow her to resume her duties.
Due to the duty of confidentiality, the woman’s lawyer says that she cannot say whether she has actually started working again. The DJI lawyer involved and a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice have not yet responded to questions.