Man fired for failing to be ‘fun’ at work wins compensation lawsuit

A French man has won the right not to be fun at work.
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Most companies are clear on their corporate values—but one French firm found itself in hot water recently after it fired an employee for refusing to embrace its self-ascribed “fun” culture.

In a court ruling earlier this month, a judge in France’s highest court ruled that Paris-based consultancy Cubik Partners had unlawfully dismissed the man, named in the case as Mr. T, for failing to be sufficiently fun.

According to court documents, Mr. T was hired as a senior consultant by Cubik in 2011 and promoted to director in 2014. However, he was dismissed from that position for “professional incompetence” in 2015.

That so-called incompetence arose when Mr. T refused to comply with Cubik’s “fun” values that the court said involved engaging in excessive drinking and other problematic behaviors. As his refusal to participate was given as a reason for his dismissal, the judge deemed he had been wrongfully fired.

“Mr. T could not be blamed for his failure to integrate the values of the company, which [saw] the necessary participation in seminars and weekend parties frequently generating excessive alcoholism encouraged by [company] associates who made very large quantities of alcohol available,” the judge said.

She added that the company advocated practices including “promiscuity, bullying, and incitement to various excesses” among its staff at these events.

Mr. T also argued that the company’s “fun” culture was characterized by “humiliating and intrusive” expectations like carrying out mock sexual acts and being obligated to share a bed with a colleague when traveling overnight for work.

Managers also allegedly encouraged using nicknames and posting “distorted and made-up” photographs in the office.

The judge said the company violated his freedom of expression and opinion by firing Mr. T for refusing to join in with these practices.

Mr. T’s demand for 461,406 euros ($481,207) in compensation, which was rejected in a previous hearing on the case, was partially overturned, with the judge ordering Cubik to pay him around 3,000 euros ($3,120) in damages.   

A spokesperson for Cubik Partners was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune.

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