You don’t have to be ‘fun’ at work, says French court

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By William Holmes on


Worker wins dismissal claim after refusing to join in ‘humiliating and intrusive’ social events

A top French court has found that a Parisian management consultancy firm was wrong to sack an employee for not being “fun” enough.

In 2015, the claimant, who is referred to anonymously as Mr T, lost his job at the Paris-based management consultancy firm Cubik Partners.

The grounds for his dismissal were “professional inadequacy” and specifically T’s failure to comply with the company’s “fun & pro” culture, which entailed mandatory social events including on weekends.

On appeal from the Paris Court of Appeal, the claimant, who was first taken on by the company in 2011, challenged his dismissal in the Court of Cassation. He claimed he had been wrongfully dismissed, arguing that he did not share the consultancy firm’s definition of “fun”, which was intended to foster a strong team spirit, and that he had the right not to comply.

His claim asked for the dismissal be declared null and void, that he be reinstated and that Cubiks Partners be ordered to pay him €461,406 (around £400,000) as compensation.

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The “fun & pro” ethos was, in T’s view, a swathe of “humiliating and intrusive” practices which included the simulation of sexual acts, the obligation to share a bed with a colleague during seminars, the use of nicknames to designate people, and hanging up “deformed and made-up photos” in the office.

The judgment details that the mandatory work events included “excessive alcohol intake, encouraged by associates who made very large quantities of alcohol available” and instilled “practices linking promiscuity, bullying and incitement” at the firm as well as “various forms of excess and misconduct”.

In light of this, the top French court agreed that the claimant had been wrongfully dismissed and could rely on his right to freedom of expression to not participate and his right to dignity and respect for private life to not attend these mandatory events.

The Court ordered the firm to pay the claimant €3,000 (£2,577) in compensation, with a full examination of T’s request for €461,000 expected at a later date.

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