- ‘By the window or by the door’—managerial abuse in France and the possibility of a UK repeat
- According to the prosecution, the managerial abuse, which allegedly led 19 workers to commit suicide, was part of a ‘moral harassment’ policy designed to cut the workforce to save the company following its privatisation. In the UK, what laws are currently in place to prevent a business from deliberately implementing such policies or workplace conditions on its employees?
- What changes to UK law, if any, would be required to protect employees from such actions by management?
- One of the main difficulties in the case is proving a chain of responsibility from those that suffered under the policy and the business’ senior management. If a similar case took place in the UK, could management be held accountable for what happens to employees much lower in their business’ hierarchy?
- The verdict of the case is expected on 20 December 2019. What would be the implications of a guilty verdict for how business is conducted in the future? Would you expect any policy or regulatory changes?
Employment analysis: Orange (formerly France Télécom) stands accused of ‘moral harassment’ in its alleged effort to ensure the company’s survival through job cuts during the 2000s. A French court heard earlier this year that former France Télécom CEO Didier Lombard had declared in a speech that the firm ‘cannot protect everyone. In 2007 I will have these job cuts one way or another. By the window or by the door’. If found guilty, Orange could receive a €75,000 fine and three of its former senior executives, including Lombard, could face prison sentences of up to one year. Sarah Chilton, partner at CM Murray, discusses UK law and what would happen if something similar happened in the UK.
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