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French Office Worker Takes Former Employer to Court for Boring Him at Work

Topics: Current Events

Some people don’t know how lucky they have it. Take, for example, the case of Frédéric Desnard, the former manager who’s bringing his ex-employer, Interparfums, before an employment tribunal, claiming “bore out” – similar to burnout, “but less interesting,” as The Guardian puts it. Terminated by the perfume company a year and a half ago, Desnard is now asking for over $400,000 in damages.

bored worker

(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

Desnard claims that he was mise en placard, or put in the cupboard, by his employer for four years before he was let go, meaning that he was given a variety of unstimulating menial tasks, unrelated to his job, instead of challenging work.

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“I was ashamed of being paid for doing nothing,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Desnard claims that his lack of work left him depressed and exacerbated his epilepsy, causing a seizure while he was driving. He took leave for seven months in 2014 before eventually being let go for “prolonged absence.”

Is This for Real?

Meaning, is it really happening? Yes. Desnard has a legal history with Interparfums; late last year, a court determined that he should pay the company €1,000 for defamation.

Furthermore, his case might not be as outlandish as it sounds.

“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’,” writes Henry Samuel at The Telegraph. “One French researcher estimated that around 30 percent of French workers suffer from ‘bore out’, reported France Info.”

Being Bored at Work Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

As much as most of us would kill for a little more downtime in a busy day, it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. Occasional boredom can boost creativity and help us develop mindfulness, but persistent lack of engagement can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other unhealthy states and behaviors. It also, quite understandably, can have an effect on attention and thus the quality of our work.

Does this mean that Desnard has a case? It’s hard to say. Stranger legal things have happened. For instance, here’s the written ruling in the case of Avista Management v. Wausau Underwriters Insurance, from way back in 2006:

[T]he Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the [Courthouse]. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of ‘rock, paper, scissors.’ The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006.

Perhaps the employment tribunal will decide to make Desnard and Interparfums play a rousing game of checkers until both parties agree that neither is bored.

Tell Us What You Think

Would you rather be bored at work, or too busy? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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I would take the stress of being busy over the boredom of not creating anything meaningful anytime. Feeling like my work is worthless is really depressing me. I would tend to believe there is such a thing as being bored out. However, I despise the fact that this worker did stick to his job and is now biting the hand that fed him. I guess changing job was not an easy option. To me, this case highlights a much bigger societal problem. France puts so much emphasis on jobs security, it makes it hard for workers to change jobs because… Read more »

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