Frédéric Desnard is taking his previous employer to an employment tribunal because his job with the company was so boring.
Desnard worked in a managerial position at a perfume factory called Interparfum for four years. He claims that during this time he was so bored in his job that he became exhausted and depressed by the tedium of his working life. Desnard, who is 44 years old, has described his ordeal as a ‘descent into hell’ and compared the health impacts to being like a less interesting form of burn out.
Now, 18 months after being made redundant, Desnard is suing Interparfum for €360,000 (£284,000) in damages and compensation for the health problems he suffered as a result of this experience.
Desnard claims that, during his time with the company he was mis au placard – a French phrase that translates as ‘to be put in the cupboard’ – meaning that his employer gave him little to no work or only menial tasks to complete. He told the French press that he was slowly stripped of his original responsibilities, as agreed in his contract, and was left to complete demeaning tasks that had nothing to do with his job role.
Desnard claims that this gradual erosion of his role damaged his self-esteem, leaving him ‘destroyed’ and with serious depression – what the French press has taken to calling ‘bore-out’. Desnard says that he was ashamed of being paid to do nothing.
He also claims that the stress of his work situation and the lack of stimulation in his job led to an epileptic fit while he was driving. Desnard was signed off work for seven months in 2014 before eventually being made redundant for a prolonged absence that his employers claimed disturbed the smooth running of Interparfum and its staff.
Interparfums’ lawyer has countered Desnard’s claims, arguing that he did not complain of being bored during his time with the company and questioning why Interparfum would continue to employ someone who had no work to do.
Last December a court ordered Desnard to pay defamation costs of €1,000 to his former employer after the judge ruled that he had no proof for his claims that Interparfum had ruined his health. Despite this ruling, which found that Desnard’s claims were inspired by a sense of personal animosity, he has chosen to bring Interparfum to an employment tribunal on the strength of his claims.
We will have to wait to see how this case pans out and whether Desnard’s claims are supported by the tribunal. If so, this could be the start of many such claims against employers, with bored and uninspired workers across the world following in his footsteps.
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