DO’S & DON’TS | This month: Harassment claims

Published on : 12/02/2020 12 février Fév. 2020
A look at the major pitfalls in French Labor and Business law…and how to avoid them

This month: Harassment claims

When an employee reports a situation of moral (psychological) harassment, the company must initiate an internal investigation and if the harassment proves to exist, immediately take the appropriate measures to put an end to this situation.
In a recent case, an employee was dismissed for professional inadequacy. She considered that her dismissal is linked to her complaint of moral harassment against her manager and she accused her employer of having breached her security obligation by not carrying out an investigation. The court of appeal rejected the employee’s claim, stating that, the employer could not be criticized for not having carried out an investigation, as the harassment was not established.
The French Supreme Court disagreed: the employer's general obligation of prevention and safety is distinct from the prohibition of psychological harassment.
The employer is liable for having failed to react accordingly. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind with such a situation:

• Do take all claims or reports of harassment seriously.
• Don’t take any action that could be seen as penalizing the person who has alerted you to the harassment or who is the victim.
• Do launch an investigation immediately, preferably by involving HR and legal counsel.
 Don’t take final disciplinary action without evidence or due process. The procedures must be followed!
• Do convene witnesses and get their statements in order to draft a report in view of reaching a conclusion.
• Don’t forget to preserve confidentiality though, where appropriate.
• Do involve the appropriate authorities if a grave and serious health and safety risk is present.
• Don’t forget to take measures to prevent such behavior from re-occurring. Trainings, management sessions and documentation must be implemented. Flichy Grangé Avocats can assist you with every step necessary to ensure your company’s proper investigation and in general, using the law to safeguard the health and safety of your employees.

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