Political party Denk has lost a €60,000 lawsuit against former candidate Sylvana Simons and been ordered to pay her €4,000 for unfair dismissal.
Simons, who had been chosen as Denk’s lead candidate for the elections on March 15, quit the party just before Christmas to found her own group, Artikel 1.
The founders of Denk, former Labour (PvdA) MPs Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk, demanded compensation from Simons for breaching a secrecy clause in her contract six times, at €10,000 per incident.
The former TV presenter, who was employed three days a week as a member of Denk’s communications team, criticised the party in an interview in the Volkskrant on December 24 in which she announced the launch of Artikel 1.
But a court ruled that her comments could not be viewed as a ‘straightforward breach’ of her contractual obligations because she was engaged ‘in political and public debate’. ‘She is free as a former employee to speak critically of the ideas and decisions made by Denk,’ the ruling said.
The court also found that the secrecy clause in her contract was ‘unusually vaguely worded’.
Simons was sacked by Denk in January, but the court said she had been unfairly dismissed and ordered the party to pay her €4,000 in compensation and holiday pay.
Simons’s colleague Ian van der Kooye, who left Denk at the same time to co-found Artikel 1, was also cleared of breaching the secrecy clause, but was ordered to compensate the party for leaving before he had worked his notice period.
Denk won three seats in Parliament in last month’s election, while Artikel 1 failed to return an MP.