French Court Rules Employee Can't Be Fired for Avoiding Office Drinking Culture

In France, you don’t have to attend work seminars with "very large quantities of alcohol" if you don't want to.

A group of people toasting with cocktails

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Never mix business and pleasure. It's a rule nearly everyone has broken at some point, whether you've befriended a coworker or you've gone out for lunch or drinks. But if you absolutely don't want to hang out with your coworkers, the French legal system has your back: In a recent ruling, one of France's highest courts decided that an employee can't be fired for avoiding company drinks and generally not being "fun."

A man referred to in court documents at Mr. T claimed that, after four years with the Paris-based consulting firm Cubik Partners, he was wrongfully dismissed in 2015. Though Cubik Partners said his dismissal was due to professional incompetence, Mr. T argued instead that he was fired for his unwillingness to join in on the company's "fun" culture, which according to court documents included seminars and weekend events featuring "very large quantities of alcohol" resulting in the encouragement of "excessive alcoholism" along with "promiscuity, bullying and incitement to various excesses."

Court documents also stated that Mr. T believed his dismissal violated his right to have "dignity and respect for his private life," seeing as the company culture allegedly included "humiliating and intrusive practices" such as "mock sexual acts, the obligation to share his bed with another employee during seminars, the use of nicknames to designate people, and the posting of distorted and made-up photos in the office."

In its ruling earlier this month, the court agreed with Mr. T, stating he had a right to "his freedom of expression" which was a "fundamental freedom," voiding his dismissal in their decision. According to Insider, Mr. T previously had his demand for nearly $500,000 in damages rejected by the Paris Court of Appeals last year, but this new decision has overturned that ruling and will look into awarding Mr. T compensation at a later date.

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