Labor court rejects Döschner lawsuit – media

The Cologne labor court has dismissed the lawsuit brought by WDR editor Jürgen Döschner. He had sued his employer for payment of monetary compensation “of not less than 75,000 euros”.

Döschner, who had been a WDR editor since 1984 and was only a few months away from retiring, asserted in his lawsuit that “his general personality rights had been seriously infringed upon by non-contractual employment”. From September 2019 to December 2022 he was given a de facto ban on working.

From Döschner’s point of view, who receives an annual salary of around 100,000 euros, after the “Story und Recherche” editorial team was dissolved in spring 2019, the use of his editorial offers ultimately amounted to employment of a few hours per month and thus to non-employment. In an interview with the SZ, lawyer Jasper Prigge explained: “My client is practically no longer in the program.” The lawsuit was preceded by a long-standing dispute over the publication of an unveiling report by Döschner. The journalist used recordings of a spontaneous conversation between opponents of lignite and the then Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet: The CDU politician admitted that the clearing of the tree houses in the occupied Hambach Forest 2018 because of fire safety concerns was just an excuse. However, the recordings were made without Laschet’s knowledge and, in the opinion of senior editors (after previous WDR publications), only represented minor news value to justify such an approach.

According to a press release from the court, WDR objected that the plaintiff had been offered employment opportunities, which he had declined. The labor court therefore came to the conclusion in its reasoning that the requirements for a claim “also because of the employment opportunities offered to the plaintiff” had not been met. This also applies if “they deviate from the previous content focus of the plaintiff’s editorial expertise”. An appeal can be lodged against the judgment at the Regional Labor Court in Cologne.

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