Georgian Culture Ministry loses wrongful dismissal lawsuits

2 September 2022
Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth Affairs Tea Tsulukiani. Image via RFE/RL.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth Affairs lost two cases in August against former employees who were found to have been wrongfully dismissed as a result of Minister Tea Tsulukiani’s ‘reorganisation efforts’.

On 29 August, the Tbilisi City Court ruled that an unnamed former employee of the Ministry of Culture was wrongfully dismissed from the ministry.

The plaintiff was fired on 1 July 2021, among around 70 other employees of the ministry and its subsidiary agencies after being deemed ‘incompetent’. This wave of dismissals came as part of ‘reorganisation’ efforts spearheaded by the then-recently appointed Minister Tea Tsulukiani.

Vakhtang Baramashvili, the lawyer representing the plaintiff, said that his client had been working at the ministry for five years prior to their dismissal. He maintained that the former employee had passed all of the ministry’s annual evaluations.

The former employee was dismissed shortly after Tea Tsulukiani took over the ministry and appointed a commission to ‘reorganise’ it.

‘For Tsulukiani's decisions regarding the dismissed staff to look legal, […] this commission conducts examinations and interviews’, Baramashvili told OC Media. ‘It seems to be masking the whole process as if it is not the minister’s [decision], but the minister is basing it on the commission’s decision'.

‘Most of the people who went to the commission were already subject to being fired; the commission seems to be a guise for this process.’


After the dismissal, the former employee of the Ministry of Culture appealed to the court, which found that their dismissal was not based on objective criteria.

‘[The court] ordered the ministry to restore their old position and to pay them compensation for this period, which they should have received in the form of salary. At this stage, it amounts to 13 months’ salary, and the salary for any additional month until they are reinstated, it will be added every month’, explained the lawyer.

The ministry did not reply to OC Media’s question on whether it intended to follow the court’s verdict. However, Baramashvili said the ministry had no option but to comply, adding that appealing the court’s decision would be a ‘lengthy process’.

In May 2022, 40 former employees of the Georgian National Museum, which is managed by the ministry, declared their intent to challenge their dismissals in court. Meanwhile, Baramashvili revealed that he was representing another fired employee of the ministry later this month who had also ‘experienced political discrimination’.

[Read more on OC Media: Georgian culture minister accused of purging critics from National Museum]

Earlier in August, Dinara Vachnadze, one of the forty fired from the National Museum, became the first to win a case against the ministry for her dismissal.

However, despite her victory, Vachnadze would not be reinstated to her old position; instead, the court ordered the ministry to compensate her for all salaries since the date of her dismissal.

Vachnadze was also dismissed for ‘incompetence’.

Tsulukiani, who also serves as one of Georgia's Vice Prime Ministers, was appointed Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth Affairs last year. She previously held the post of Minister of Justice for eight years, overseeing controversial judicial reforms.