by Breda O'Malley , Ciaran Doyle December-07-2022 in Employment Law

The answer is ‘no’, according to the Paris Court of Cassation (the “Court”).

The French Court ruled in the past month that an employer cannot dismiss an employee where, in the employer’s opinion, the employee is not “fun”, specifically where an employee refuses to attend work drinks and engage in team-building activities. As the festive season fast approaches, and many employers will be hosting events, this decision is a poignant reminder of the risks of pressuring employees to attend work events or socials outside working hours.


The Facts

Mr T was a senior advisor in Cubik Partners (the “Company”), a management / training consultancy company based in Paris. The Company’s motto is “fun & pro” and its website states that employees must “have fun while working”. However, the “fun” events arranged by the Company included requiring employees to “forcibly participate” in “excessive alcohol intake”, sharing beds with colleagues as well as “humiliating and intrusive practices regarding privacy such as simulating sexual acts”.   

In 2015, the Company terminated Mr T’s employment on grounds of “professional inadequacy” on the basis that he was “boring”, difficult to work with and a poor listener. Mr T’s response: he did not share the Company’s definition of “fun” and he was not willing to engage in “practices linking promiscuity, bullying and incitement to get involved in various forms of excess and misconduct”.

Finding in Mr T’s favour, the Court held the Company’s values violated his “fundamental right to dignity and respect to private life” and that he was exercising his “freedom of expression” by refusing to participate.

The Court awarded Mr T €3,000; he is currently also pursuing recovery of compensation of €461,000.



There are situations where it will be appropriate for employers to require employees’ attendance at work related events, for example networking events or seminars. However, there are also situations where it is inappropriate to require or pressurise employees to attend social or work events outside working hours.

Employees have rights to privacy and dignity. Employers must exercise caution where an employee refuses to attend a social event on a religious holiday or an event involving alcohol consumption where this is contrary to a religious belief. Other employees may have family commitments, or disabilities which prevent them from attending or participating meaningfully in social events outside working hours. In circumstances where an employer requires such employees’ attendance and/or penalises employees for not participating in social events, those employers may face a panoply of employment related claims, including unfair/discriminatory dismissal, constructive dismissal, discrimination, victimisation and/or harassment claims.

What is the situation in Ireland? Our Partner, Breda O’Malley, lead in our Employment Law Group, discusses this on Newstalk’s ‘The Hard Shoulder’. We outline the key learning from this case in an Irish context here.

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