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Free Software Foundation Europe statement on a public post from 20 December 2020

22 December 2020 (Update 20 January 2021)

On 20 December 2020, a public post was circulated about a lawsuit in which the author claims that the Free Software Foundation Europe ended an employment relationship with a former staffer. Although it is our usual policy not to comment publicly on internal personnel matters for privacy reasons (our ex-employee has not agreed on more detail), we felt it necessary to state unequivocally that this post does not reflect the reality of the facts and contradicts the verdict by the Berlin Labour Court.

The court judgement of 19 November 2020 (reference number 42 Ca 5723/20) did not acknowledge any factual basis to the assertions. Furthermore the judges concluded that our former employee's own statements prove that she “neither experienced hostility, nor was she offended, nor in another form intimidated or demeaned”. Additionally they found, she received equal treatment, and that “the boundaries of socially acceptable conduct” were “not exceeded”.

Until the end of the proceedings, we do not wish to comment any further. In the meantime we discourage speculation, the former employee confirmed to us through her lawyer on 22 December 2020 that she does not support speculation about names and we respect that wish.

Free Software is meant to serve everyone regardless of their age, ability or disability, gender identity, sex, race, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. True to this principle, we pay our staff based on their qualifications and performance, without reference to any of the characteristics listed. To promote inclusivity and equality in the Free Software community, our recruitment process gives preference to applicants who identify as part of underrepresented groups in technology for applications of equal strength.

Furthermore, together with our CARE team, we aim to offer a friendly and safe environment for every participant in our activities, both online and offline. Misbehaving can lead to exclusion from our organisation, our activities and/or our technical infrastructure, no matter the perpetrator's position and/or reputation within the organisation or the Free Software community. These commitments are not just words: in the past, breaches of the FSFE’s Code of Conduct have led to such exclusions.

In the interest of protecting the privacy and moral integrity of all involved, including our current or former employees, we wish to refrain from commenting further at this stage. Finally, we urge members of our community to refrain from personal attacks or pressure on any of the parties involved, especially on social media.

Update 20 January 2021: the verdict about the legal case in front of the Berlin Labour Court was not appealed and is now legally binding.