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French Court Holds Being Fun Is Not a Valid Work Requirement

Cubik Partners hired Mr. T (as court documents refer to him) in 2011 and promoted him in 2014. However, the management consultancy company fired Mr. T when he refused to participate in seminars and weekend social events. According to the Washington Post, the social and work events included "excessive" alcohol consumption and “promiscuity.” Mr. T also said the company’s culture encouraged "humiliating and intrusive practices," such as mock sexual acts, crude nicknames, and sharing a bed with another employee during work functions. Managers purportedly supported posting “distorted and made-up” photographs in the office.

The company officially fired him for “professional incompetence,” which it defined as failing to go along with its “fun” values. Cubik remarked on Mr. T's "brittle and demotivating tone" toward his subordinates and refusal to accept feedback and differing points of view. Mr. T argued he had the "right to be boring." The Court of Cassation, France's high court, ruled Mr. T had "freedom of expression" and refusing to participate in the social activities was a "fundamental freedom" under the country's labor and human rights laws. The court concluded the company could not force employees to participate in these activities, and Mr. T's refusal did not constitute grounds for dismissal.