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Mirror effects

Ruling of the Departmental Conciliation Board in Business and Industry, onthe unfair dismissal of Mr Josef Aradonian, security guard, by his employer, Intransigent Inc., on July 17, 1989.

Tape 32-17-88. Photogramme 6'39".

Case summary : Intransigent Inc. (Flower Street 35, Courbevoie)provides security services for several companies in the department of Hauts-de-Seine. This includes sworn-in guards, and most of Intransigent employees work in the office buildings of La Défense. The plaintiff, Mr Josef Aradonian, was recruited in 1987 and had been working on night shift in the Vilsmaier Tower, headquarters of the Financial Division of Vilsmaier France, subsidiary of the Vilsmaier Group, the multinational flow management company (water, energy, information, money). Mr Aradonian's work is passive in nature, and consists mainly in the video surveillance of the comings and goings of office workers and visitors between 23 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Mr Aradonian's work was highly satisfying until his sudden dismissal, onOctober 17, 1988, when Mr Aradonian was told, without any prior notice, that he was no longer working for Intransigent Inc. This decision was grounded on what Intransigent Inc. called an "aggravated misconduct". According to his former employer, Mr Aradonian had willingly let non-accredited people go inside the building several times during the previous month, as shown by video tapes recorded on these particular nights. As far as we know, these mysterious visits did not prove to be harmful. Nevertheless, Vilsmaier France immediately terminated the contract with Intransigent Inc., with dramatic consequences for the latter company, gone since into bankruptcy.

Ground for appeal : Mr Aradonian disagrees with the indictment of aggravated carelessness with suspicion of complicity. He demands his reinstatement as an Intransigent Inc. employee. He protests that he had no knowledge whatsoever of the intruders' presence in the building. He does not dispute the truthfulness of the videotapes, nor does he questions the honesty of his former employer. His only explanation for the appearance of human forms on the tape is a phenomenon he calls the "mirror effect", also known as the " effect". Named after its inventor, the effect is a property of reality-recording media such as magnetic tapes, photography or the retina: in some cases, these media would record events non-extemporaneously. According to Mr Aradonian, it would have been easy to watch the tapes recorded within the two weeks before the visits began, and to see the same persons enter the building, but with a full autorisation this time. Unfortunately, nobody at Intransigent Inc. went as far as to examine those tapes, which have since been erased.

Tape 34-17-88. Photogramme 36'12".

Final Board ruling : due to our weak financial means, we were notable to check every item in Mr Aradionian's story. We met with a multimedia expert who could neither confirm the existence of the effect nor deny it, though this person told us that he had heard about it. However, Mr Aradonian is apparently an honest man, and we rule that his dismissal was indeed unfair. Intransigent Inc. should have watched to the tapes recorded previously, particularly as it appears that such an effect would have tremendous consequences on the security market. Intransigent Inc. may have given too much credit on the representation of the reality, and not on the reality itself.

Being close to bankruptcy, Intransigent Inc. cannot be forced to hire back Mr Aradonian. Thus, the Board demands for Mr Aradonian the indemnities that are normally due to employees dismissed for economic reasons.

Gilles Tran © 2001 www.oyonale.com