French execs face prison over bullying suicides
Publish date: 10 July 2019
Issue Number: 294
Diary: Legalbrief Workplace
Former executives at France Télécom could face prison over organised workplace harassment that led to a spate of staff suicides a decade ago. The Guardian reports that French state prosecutors have urged judges to find the executives guilty of moral harassment and hand down the maximum prison sentence of one year, plus large fines, after details emerged in court of the turmoil felt by workers over systematic bullying tactics aimed at pushing staff to leave. The report says the case against the former state-owned French telecoms firm – known since 2013 as Orange – could set a world precedent with company managers held personally criminally responsible for strategic harassment aimed at forcing workers to resign. Seven former France Télécom bosses, including the former CEO Didier Lombard and the former head of human resources Olivier Barberot, are accused of putting in place a toxic management system of institutional harassment designed to force workers out. Some staff were routinely forced to change jobs or relocate for work, finding their positions had been scrapped. The accused deny the charges.