Ljiljana Smajlović, the former editor-in-chief of the Politika daily, was unlawfully fired from that position – the Primary Court in Belgrade has ruled, the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) says.
Politika Novine i Magazini (PNM), the publisher of the oldest daily in the Balkans – the Politika, is ordered to pay Ljiljana Smajlovic damages in the amount of 2,674,667 dinars, according to the UNS.
In the rationale of the verdict, Judge Violeta Saveljic Dolasevic points out that “on 4th July, 2016, Ljiljana Smajlovic resigned as editor-in-chief via email that she sent to the representative of PNM, but, in the email, she did not specifically express her willingness to stop working for the company all together, since her letter, both in form and content, does not constitute a statement of termination of the Job Contract”.
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Despite this, the directors of the Politika daily, Mira Glisic Simic and Nina Samardzic, interpreted the statement of resignation “as termination of the Job Contract on 11th July 2016, while the plaintiff was on vacation, and henceforth made the decision on termination of employment without explanation and an instruction about legal remedy”.
Ljiljana Smajlovic told the court that she knew the difference between resigning as the editor-in-chief and the termination of the Job Contract, that she did not quit, but resigned as editor when she realized that she was misled by the director Mira Glisic Simic, who claimed that management could not be appointed prior to the company’s Managing Board deciding about it.
Smajlović also pointed out that she “resigned hoping that that will prompt the Politika’s Managing Board convening and discussing her resignation, as well as discussing their support for the autonomy of the editor-in-chief and the independence of the editorial staff.”
She also stated that she “was convinced that she contributed to the good reputation and influence of the Politika that she independently edited and that that led to an increase in public support for the daily and a mild increase in circulation figures too.
The Court accepted Ljiljana Smajlovic’s statement as “clear, logical, honest and convincing,” the UNS said in a statement.
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