Harassment: the behavior of a manager which has been tolerated by the employer for several years cannot be a valid ground for dismissal

An employee who bullies a colleague can, in principle, be dismissed when it amounts to harassment according to the French Labour Code (see our previous post on this topic from September 28, 2022, https://mgglegal.com/en/how-is-harassment-defined-under-french-law/).

In a recent case of 12 July 2022, the French Supreme Court however set an exception to this general principle: the dismissal of a manager bullying a team member must be held unfair where the behavior and management methods have been tolerated by the employer.

The Court of Appeal’s decision, upheld by the French Supreme Court, noted that the management methods amounting to harassment were known and even condoned by the company for several years without being disciplined. Even though harassment was characterized, the behavior could not be a valid ground for the manager’s dismissal for gross misconduct since those actions had not been immediately blamed.