Frenchman 'bored out of work' sues for €360,000
A Frenchman claims his employer gave him so little to do that he suffered from "bore out" and is now demanding €360,000 in compensation.
The term 'burnout', when employees collapse due to stress and overwork, is well-known but Frédéric Desnard (44), from Paris, has accused his ex-employer, a prestigious perfumes company, of subjecting him to something far worse: being bored stiff.
He said bosses at Interparfum stripped him of his real managerial role and instead foisted mind-numbingly dull tasks on him over a four-year period.
Mr Desnard described the process as "an insidious descent into hell, a nightmare" that led to him suffering from a host of health problems, including "epilepsy, ulcers, sleep problems and serious depression".
He said he was sidelined after the company lost a major contract and was preparing to restructure the group.
"I went into depression, I was ashamed to be paid to do nothing," he said. "The worst part of it was denying this suffering," he said. He was fired in 2014 after seven months' sick leave.
He is seeking more than €360,000 in damages and missed pay, which included holiday pay and missing out on a potential promotion.
Ahead of an employment tribunal hearing yesterday, Montasser Charni, his lawyer, said the company's aim was to bore him to death so that they could fire him without redundancy payments or other compensation.
However, Jean-Philippe Bénissan, a lawyer for the company, said there were serious inconsistencies in his claims for which he had "no proof", and that he had previously claimed to be suffering from the reverse - "burnout" - only to change tactics.
"He never said anything about being bored during the four-year period. And if he actually had nothing to do over these years, why didn't he mention it?" the lawyer added.
While the term "bore-out" is not recognised by French law, Sylvain Neil, a labour law specialist, said that France's higher court had to date recognised 244 cases of employees being "intentionally sidelined", which it ruled was tantamount to "moral harassment".
One French researcher estimated that around 30pc of French workers suffer from "bore-out", said France Info.
Jean Claud Delgènes, whose firm Technologia specialises in employee risks, said the condition could strike when a staff member felt stuck but wouldn't dare risk changing jobs in today's sluggish French labour market.
This is not the first time lack of work has hit the headlines in France.
Last year, it emerged that SNCF, the state rail operator, had paid employee Charles Michel more than €5,000 a month for 12 years, plus holiday bonuses, despite the fact he had not worked a single day in that time.
He then demanded a further €500,000 compensation for missing out on a promotion. (© Daily Telegraph London)