The breakup between colleagues does not concern the employer

A couple on a sidewalk. Illustrative photo (JEAN-LUC FL? MAL / MAXPPP)

It is the tumultuous story of a couple who separate. Except that they work together, in the same bank in eastern France. Their relationship is complicated, made of breakups and reunions, and one fine day they separate, by mutual agreement. An email from the employee is unequivocal on this point. Each suggests to the other to stop there. Except that they do not stop there, as the social news site ActuEL RH tells it. Monsieur goes so far as to put a GPS tag on Madame’s personal vehicle to be able to check his schedule. He suspects her of having relations with another colleague at the bank. He doesn’t stop there and sends her messages asking her to reconnect, when she has expressly indicated that she does not want anything more to do with him, except in the course of work. Problem, he sends these messages to his professional mailbox.

And this is the reason why his employer decides to fire him, and for serious misconduct. A decision that deprives him of notice. The employer considers that these events are related to the life of the company. The employee challenges his dismissal, the case goes to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation, the highest court, must rule on what is allowed when a romantic relationship is broken off at his workplace. And the judges are rather lenient. The GPS beacon? It was placed on the employee’s personal vehicle. Not professional.

What about the messages on the company’s mailbox? The judges find only two. Not enough to say that there was harassment. The important thing was to know whether these facts had had an impact within the bank branch or on the career of the person concerned. The answer is no. Result: it was not the employer’s business, the dismissal is therefore without real and serious cause and the bank is ordered to pay 60,000 euros in damages. As ActuEL RH reports, the matter could have been quite different if the rupture had degenerated to the point of endangering the employee physically or psychologically. He should then have done everything to protect her. And the dismissal could then have been valid.

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