An important judgement for freedom of expression, says head of the Freedom of Expression Commission, Kjersti Løken Stavrum, after the Hordaland District Court on Tuesday upheld Rianne Vogel’s decision that her statements about trans people on Twitter were not grounds for dismissal.
In March 2022, Rianne Vogels was dismissed by her employer, Papillon Bergen, for speaking about transgender people on Twitter. Papillon Bergen is a “multicultural meeting place for girls, women and non-binary people in Bergen” (quote from the association’s Facebook page).
Vogels chose to take up the fight and went to court to have the dismissal declared unfair. On Tuesday, the verdict was handed down in Hordaland district court.
Papillon must pay NOK 60,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal to Vogels, in addition to the legal costs of NOK 537,514.
I am happy with this verdict. We were supported on all points and it went 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.
Head of the Freedom of Expression Commission, Kjersti Løken Stavrum, is pleased with the ruling:
This judgement 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. (NRK)
Trine Lise Fromreide, partner in the law firm Simonsen Vogt Wiig represented the employer in the trial, and she tells NRK that they are considering appealing the verdict.
The case was first reported by Bergens Tidende (paywall), but NRK’s article also goes into the employer’s argument in court:
In court, several of Vogel’s Twitter messages were presented, in addition to shares or “likes” of others’ statements.
Among other things, Vogels had posted 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 emphasised that the person concerned identified herself as a woman, but was still referred to as a man in the tweet. (NRK)
Illegal dismissal after statements about transgender people – believes the verdict sends a clear signal (NRK)