A remarkable case just came down from, perhaps unsurprisingly, a French court, where a gentleman sued claiming he lost his job when he refused to participate in what he claimed were required extracurricular activities. In this case, he wasn’t asked to go golfing or build a house for Habitat for Humanity. No, in a scenario straight out of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” this young Frenchman claimed he was required to attend social events that included heavy drinking, and sexually promiscuous behavior, including an odd situation in which he was expected to share a bed with a colleague. When he refused, he claimed we was fired, as he was deemed to be “too boring.” He won his lawsuit, giving hope to introverts everywhere who would just rather go home after work, or at most go to a sedate after hours event, as opposed to re-enacting “Animal House.” While the case seems absurd, what is remarkable, even today, how many cases we see in which companies either encourage, or more often willfully ignore, excessive revelry among their employees at work, or work-sponsored events. And there is so much peer pressure, especially on younger workers, to fit in by doing things that make them feel uncomfortable, including drinking to excess. So perhaps this case will give them some additional support to say no when they might feel pressured to go along with something that makes them feel uncomfortable, which is a good thing. For these kind of alcohol fueled work events can have devastating effects on individuals who overindulge and act out in ways that get themselves fired and the company sued. Sadly, ’tis particularly the season for such workplace debacles. So what is the answer? Common sense. If you aren’t comfortable attending a social event, or if you don’t think you can handle yourself appropriately, don’t go. And if you do attend, steer clear of the spiked punch bowl, have fun, but don’t do anything that will land you in a meeting with HR the next day.
Employment Law For The Real World