June 29, 2018
According to prosecutors, the decisions of former France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard and six other executives contributed to workers’ psychological issues and, ultimately, a rash of suicides, allegedly placing the executives in violation of France’s anti-bullying law known as “moral harassment.”
The suicides coincided with a major company restructuring involving reducing headcount by 22,000 and shifting a further 10,000 into new roles. Union critics claim that many of the moves were into meaningless jobs, with the goal of encouraging workers with protected status to resign.
The suicide rates at France Telecom were fractionally lower than the overall rate in France. However, after a public spate of suicides and attempts on France Telecom property—and least one victim leaving a note blaming the work environment—the company suspended its restructuring plans in 2009. The suicides raised questions about whether the strong worker protections in France were effective in promoting happiness among French workers.