Senior Managers of Orange (France Telecom)

jailed for institutional psychological

harrassment of employees

Between January 2008 and January 2011 more than sixty employees of France Telecom committed suicide.

Following lengthy investigations a Court in France has fined Orange (formerly France Telecom) and imprisoned three of its Senior Managers for inflicting psychological damage on a number of its employees directly causing their suicide.

The Court found that the deaths by suicide of the employees occurred during a period of ruthless restructuring launched by former CEO Didier Lombard, his assistant Louis Wenes and former Head of HR Olivier Barberot.

The restructuring included reducing the workforce by 22,000 people and relocating a further 10,000.

The evidence revealed that contrary to the evidence of the Senior Management that the redundancies were voluntary or due to natural wastage, the employees were actually pressurised into leaving or into relocating by way of enforced relocation, cuts in salary and emails pressurising the employees to resign.

The Court concluded after considering lengthy evidence that of 39 employees whose cases it examined 19 had committed suicide, a further 12 attempted to do so and a further 8 suffered from depression and resigned.

The Court held that the behaviour of the three Defendants constituted institutional systematic psychological harassment deliberately designed to make conditions completely impossible for employees and thereby hastening their departure from the business.

The three Senior Managers were sentenced to one year each in prison with eight months suspended and they were each fined €15,000. A number of less senior employees were also found guilty of collaborating with the behaviour of the three Senior Executives and were each sentenced to four months in prison suspended with a fine of €5,000 each. The Company was fined the maximum allowed by law - €75,000.

The Company accepted the finding and said it would not appeal. Mr. Lombard has said that he will appeal.

Trade Unions in France welcomed the decision and the penalties imposed.

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This document is for information purposes only and does not purport to represent legal advice.  
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