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Why Did the French Courts Award €40,000 to Frédéric Desnard?

We can safely say that many people are not satisfied with their jobs. Most of the time, they wouldn’t even give a second thought about sticking to a tedious job, but would there be a job boring enough that you would sue your employer for it? 

Frédéric Desnard, a French manager working for an international perfume company, was awarded €40,000 by the French courts for being too bored out of his job. Despite being paid well, he suffered a nervous breakdown from it. 

Frédéric Desnard’s Story

Interparfums is a perfume company based in France. The company develops, manufactures, and distributes prestige perfumes and cosmetics for well-known names such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Anna Sui, Coach, DKNY, Dunhill, Ferragamo, GUESS, and Hollister, to name a few. The company currently owns Lanvin fragrances and the Rochas brand. (Source: Interparfums Inc.)

In December 2006, Frédéric Desnard joined the fragrance company as a manager. According to previous colleagues, Desnard was a model employee. He showed dedication to his job at the esteemed fragrance company.

But in 2009, Desnard noticed that his workload began to lighten. Tasks he usually did were taken away from him. This began to worsen three years later when Interparfums lost a major contract. The company started laying off employees. Luckily, Desnard was able to keep his job with Interparfums.

As the years passed, the French manager soon became weary of his job. It wasn’t the abundance of work that wore him out, but the opposite. He was not given any meaningful tasks to do. Desnard claimed that he was only given menial tasks like purchasing office supplies, repairing a steam generator, reconfiguring a tablet, and running errands for the president.

Desnard described his workday as 20 to 40-minute workdays, where his official job is completed in that time frame. And after that, he would have nothing to do anymore. Despite having an annual salary of €80,000, he felt very weary of his workload of nothingness. He also felt guilty and ashamed for earning that amount of money for doing nothing.

In addition, Desnard felt he was invisible in the company, that no one cared what time he came in. Desnard’s lawyer, Montasser Charni, stated that he was destroyed morally, and it manifested physically.

Desnard was literally bored out of his mind. Practically the opposite of a burnout. This caused him to have an epileptic episode while driving. The episode caused an accident which led to Desnard falling into a coma for several days. (Source: NDTV)

Desnard’s Legal Case

In September 2014, Desnard was let go of his post after being on sick leave for seven months. The French manager felt that his termination was unjust, given that he suffered an accident and was put on sick leave. (Source: Staffing Industry)

He then complained to a labor relations tribunal, stating that his job turned him into a professional zombie. Charni claimed in Court that Desnard was killed professionally through boredom.

Interparfums lawyer, Jean-Philippe Benissan, claimed in Court that Desnard has never attempted to reach out to the management to air out his situation. Benissan also claimed that he didn’t alert the employee health and safety agency. The lawyer also specified that Desnard has consistently received a clean bill of health over the years.

Benissan also pointed out in Court that it may be Desnard’s strategy to cash in on his situation because, in the past, Desnard filed a different case with the labor relations tribunal against Interparfums, stating that he was overworked.

But according to Charni, Desnard didn’t want to reach out to the company’s management simply because he was grateful he was still employed despite many of his colleagues being laid off. Charni also claimed that bore out was a form of harassment in the office space, to which the Paris Court of Appeals agreed. The French Court awarded Desnard €40,000 because of this. (Source: NDTV)

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