A French Supreme Court judgment has confirmed that an employee cannot be dismissed for taking legal action against his or her employer.

By: Jean-Benoit Cottin

Firm: Capstan

In France, a dismissal that violates a fundamental right is null and void (for example, dismissal violating the employee's freedom of expression) unless the employee abuses his or her right.

A dismissal resulting from a legal action brought or likely to be brought by an employee against his or her employer is therefore null and void because it infringes a constitutional right. A decision of the French Supreme Court of 20 March 2019 ruled that the dismissal of an employee after the latter's had started an action to have his harassment recognised is null and void. The dismissal letter criticised the employee for bringing an action before a judge against the company and its managers.

The Supreme Court has already annulled the dismissal of employees who had taken legal action against their employers, even if the dismissal was based on another ground (which masked the real reason), and the dismissal of employees who threatened to do so.

Please note that the fact that the employee's legal action has no basis is irrelevant in these circumstances.