Human Resources News & Insights

Is this worker’s lawsuit legit, or a new low point for employees everywhere?

Chances are you’ve heard of some lawsuits that were pretty “out there,” but you probably haven’t heard of one quite like this. 

Frederic Desnard, a Frenchman who used to work for Interparfums, which licenses luxury perfumes, is suing the employer for turning him into a “professional zombie.”

Desnard claims that after his company lost a major contract, he was stripped of his managerial duties and asked to perform excruciatingly dull tasks for the remainder of his tenure with the firm.

He says he didn’t have nearly enough to keep him occupied, which led to “bore-out” (essentially the opposite of burnout).

His attorney told the news outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Desnard was “killed professionally through boredom.”

So there you have it, Desnard is suing his former employer because of boredom.

Can he win?

France’s labor law requires him to prove that his lack of work actually caused him some physical harm, and Desnard is claiming exactly that.

Desnard said after his managerial duties were taken away, he was only asked to do between 20 and 40 minutes of real work per day.

He told AFP that the lack of work caused him to slip into depression due to his shame of being paid to do nothing. He then said his mental state lead to a decline in his physical health.

Desnard eventually had an epileptic episode while driving, which lead to an accident that resulted in him being in a coma for several days.

He was eventually fired after taking seven months of sick leave.

Desnard is seeking roughly $415,000 in compensation and damages from Interparfums. Speaking at an employment tribunal, his attorney claims the company’s goal was to bore Desnard to death so it could fire him without being liable for redundancy pay (it’s a European thing) or other compensation.

Why didn’t he quit?

His situation begs the question: If Desnard was so miserable, why didn’t he just quit his job?

Desnard claims he was afraid that, because of the country’s depressed job market, he may not have been able to find other work. So he stayed on the job and never complained.

Naturally, Interparfums is fighting the lawsuit.

In part of its argument, it’s claiming that Desnard himself is not without fault. After all, during the four-year period during which Desnard claims to have suffered from “bore-out,” he never once complained to the company or government safety officials.

Stay tuned. A ruling in the case is scheduled for late July.

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