French Bullies: Ex-Bosses To Stand Trial Over Staff Suicides

France Telecom Chief Executive Didier Lombard, right, with deputy CEO Stephane Richard present the group’s 2009 full-year results Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010, in Paris. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

by Michael John Scott

It’s a crime to bully your staff in France.  Several top executives of a French telecom are slated to stand trial for employees who killed themselves in what prosecutors have called a culture of “moral harassment.”

Former CEO, Didier Lombard, and six managers are facing $35,000 fines and two years in prison if found culpable of workplace bullying. The alleged harassment occurred after France Telecom was privatized and executives tried restructuring the company in 2006, partly by slashing 22,000 jobs and retraining thousands of others.

“I’ll get them out one way or another, through the window or through the door,” Lombard told top managers in 2007.

The fallout was brutal, with at least 19 workers killing themselves (union reps say it was 35) and one taking his life during a staff meeting. Another worker fatally set himself on fire in an office parking lot in 2011.

“The whole staff is completely overwhelmed with emotion,” said a trade union representative. “All of Bordeaux is in tears.”

But French Telecom, now called Orange, plans to dispute the charges.

“I forcefully reject that plans that were essential to the survival of the company could have been the cause of the human tragedies cited by the complainants,” Lombard wrote when the harassment probe began in 2012.

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Posted by on June 17, 2018. Filed under NEWS I FIND INTERESTING. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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5 Responses to French Bullies: Ex-Bosses To Stand Trial Over Staff Suicides

  1. jess Reply

    June 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Sounds like working there was really bad but blaming them for suicide I dunno about that.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      June 17, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      I don’t know about that either. Wouldn’t be easier to just quit?

      • jess Reply

        June 17, 2018 at 3:18 pm

        You would think so right? I have had a couple of shitty managers, ayup I have actually worked people, but taking my life over them, nope… they were not worth the energy I would have needed to think up ways of killing myself.

  2. Glenn R. Geist Reply

    June 18, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Some people are suicide prone and it has nothing to do with outside circumstances. But you know every boss I’ve had has been a jerk and that includes having been self-employed. Still, abusing employees isn’t nice although it may sound better in French, n’est-ce pas?

  3. Glenn R. Geist Reply

    June 18, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Oh, by the way – moral harassment? Isn’t that called church?

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