French telecoms company Orange and its former CEO Didier Lombard were pronounced guilty of “moral harassment” that prompted a series of suicides during a restructuring at the firm in the late 2000s, a courtroom ruled on Friday.
The court sentenced Lombard to a year in jail, of which eight months was suspended, and 15,000 euros ($16,680.00) fine in a landmark ruling.
The traumatic episode of staff’ deaths at the firm, then known as France Telecom, in the late 2000s, led to deep soul-searching over company culture in France.
The court docket further found Orange guilty of the same charge and fined it 75,000 euros.
The responsible verdict against Lombard and the company will reverberate in French and European boardrooms as it units a precedent for giant business. It could pave the way in which for different similar collective procedures in France.
Orange has previously acknowledged the suffering manifested by victims and recognized there might have been administration errors in completing the restructuring plan but refuses there was any systemic plan or intention to harass employees.
Prosecutors argued that several methods employed in a deep restructuring of the group, then known as France Telecom after privatization, caused a series of suicides.
Orange has stated it acknowledges the suffering expressed by victims and recognizes there could have been management errors in implementing the restructuring plan; however, it denies there was any systemic plan or intention to harass workers.
Three other former Orange representatives also accused of “moral harassment” have also denied accountability. The executives stated the overhauling plan was an economic necessity.