Lawyers available for free consultations on non-work-related issues
Four lawyers are available weekly in room C0341 to advise staff on non-work-related issues. Up to two free legal consultancies per year are provided to dues-paying members of VIC Staff Associations/Unions.
To arrange for an appointment with one of the lawyers, please contact them directly.
Maker sure you take your Staff Union membership card with you when attending your appointment with the lawyer. Staff members who no longer have their card can contact the Staff Union Secretariat in Room E-1112 or call ext. 3588.
Legal protection on work-related issues
In the United Nations we have a new Internal Justice System. It is better than the previous one as it is more independent, more professional and more efficient.
However, the equality of legal representation remins an issue .
The Secretary-General has, through the regular budget, an army of lawyers who defend his interests. Staff have limited resources available through the Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA).
The General Assembly has consistently requested the Secretary-General to consult with staff and come up with a staff-funded scheme to support OSLA - which means that staff have to fund for bringing cases to the UNDT. Staff Unions globally have resisted this move because in line with the principle of equality of arms, we do not see why we should pay for bringing cases against poor managerial practices when the Secretary-General can depend in his defence on lawyers from the Office of Legal Affairs, whose posts are funded from the regular budget. Even if a staff-funded scheme is introduced, our Union does not believe that our staff will be served better.
For this reason, on 1 January 2012, the Union contracted a lawyer, Mr. Jeffrey Dahl, who is an expert in UN rules and regulations to provide advice on general legal issues, including the submission, representation and management of individual Staff Union members' cases in the United Nations Administration of Justice system.
So far the legal consultant has provided advice to and successfully represented a number of staff.
In 2011 eighteen locally recruited colleagues were informed that they were considered ineligible for conversion to permanent appointment because of their separation from service when they transferred from other duty stations to Vienna. With the consultant's assistance they sent their appeals to the Management Evaluation Unit (MEU), which eventually reversed the administrative decision of OHRM. And these colleagues have been granted their permanent contracts.
Another appeal was successfully submitted to the MEU requesting the removal of a senior management team's negative comment in the rating of a staff member's e-PAS. The case was resolved informally and the negative comment removed.
The legal consultant assisted one more staff member who was found ineligible for conversion to permanent appointment. Following a negative response from MEU, the case was taken up by the Dispute Tribunal. The Tribunal found that the decision to deny the applicant conversion to a permanent appointment was unlawful and assessed an appropriate sum to be awarded to the applicant as compensation for moral damage.
Professional legal assistance is a service that the Union provides to all dues-paying members. Below are the guidelines for accessing the service:
Another lawyer, Mr Laurence C. Fauth, Esq. is available weekly on Thursdays, from 08:00 to 12:00 (by appointment only) in room C0341 to advise you on work-related issues. Up to TWO free legal consultancies per year will be provided exclusively to Contributing Members of VIC Staff Associations/Unions. Please see more information attached.
The Staff Union would like to remind staff that while all staff of UNOV/UNODC are nominally members of the Staff Union, payment of dues is completely voluntary and is not automatic. Dues are a powerful tool for staff because each member's small contribution adds up to a collective fund to develop activities that will benefit all. Those staff who are not dues-paying members are strongly encouraged to join by completing and signing the membership form.
However, it should be noted that the Staff Council is available at any time if any staff member wishes to consult us on any sort of issues they may face at their workplace.