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A Manager Responsible for Work-Related Psychosocial Exposure Can Be Dismissed For Poor Performance 

by Patrick Thiebart

Published: July, 2017

Submission: July, 2017

 



A regional director was fired for poor performance.

According to her dismissal letter, she was terminated because of her behavior that had led a number of co-workers to suffer from stress and harassment. More particularly, the letter pointed out her directive management style and her authoritative leadership, a lack of consistency and honesty, the fact that she aimed at discouraging her team members and did not treat them with respect using an insulting and degrading language.

The company had been alerted by several employees regarding her management methods. She had sent emails in which she called her co-workers “complete idiots” and had made a demeaning satirical horoscope.

The occupational doctor had also alerted the company after one of the employees had been declared unfit for work on a temporary basis as a result of the regional director’s behavior.

The regional director brought the matter before the labor court arguing basically that she should have been fired for fault instead of poor performance. Since the proper procedure for disciplinary dismissal had not been followed, her dismissal was unfair.

One of her main arguments was that the actions described constituted a deliberate behavior and that poor performance cannot result from a voluntary behavior.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with the employee’s argumentation and ruled that the dismissal for poor performance was justified. It held that the facts at hand constituted poor management performance and thus the dismissal did not have to be for fault and could be for poor performance.

The employee appealed to the Supreme Court. On June 2, 20171, the Supreme Court confirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision. It held that based on the terms of the dismissal letter, the Court of Appeals did not make a mistake in approving the dismissal for poor performance.

This decision falls in line with the current trend of Supreme Court’s decisions.

Indeed, recently the Court has put the accent on the fact that ensuring the emotional balance and well being of employees at work is actually part of management’s job description. In this vein, in March 2017, the Court had approved the dismissal of a HR manager for failure to intervene when a manager used harassment as a management method2.


 


 


 


Footnotes:

1 Supreme Court, June 2, 2017 n°16-13134


2 Supreme Court, June 2, 2017 n°16-13134


 

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