France Telecom investigation over staff suicides linked to bullying
Date: 9 Jul 2012
France Telecom is under investigation after 35 employee suicides in 2008 and 2009 have been linked to a restructuring programme that allegedly undermined employees' well being and was akin to bullying.
Former chief executive Didier Lombard had to post bail for €100,000 and was joined by former head of human resources Olivier Barberot and deputy CEO Louis-Pierre Wenes.
The company's restructuring had involved tens of thousands of job losses, and unions suggest that it was actively intended to create suffering to employees and consequently triggered a wave of suicides within the company.
A company spokesman said that it rejected the accusations, and welcomed the opportunity to defend itself against the charges. Mr Lombard insisted that the programme had been necessary, and had involved no compulsory redundancies with support for finding new career options for employees affected. 20,000 jobs were cut during the restructuring.
If found guilty of workplace bullying, the executives could go to jail for a year.
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In a recent article, the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston highlighted the fact that in 2012 the chances are that the economy - punch drunk as it is from the various flavours of debt crisis it has been pummelled with over the course of the year - will be hit by the collapse of a major bank and / or government.
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