In this Washington Post article, ‘French executives to stand trial for ‘moral harassment’ a decade after employee suicides’, we see just how powerful and serious a problem Orange France now faces in this important case.
I wrote about this company in regards to the ongoing criminal investigation in my book, ‘From Bully to Bulls-Eye: Move Your Organization Our of the Line of Fire’, connecting workplace bullying with suicide. I would also refer you to the recent blogs I wrote on suicide: Suicide Rates Rise Sharply Across the United StatesandSuicide Is By No Means Limited To The Health Care Profession - It's The Biggest Open Secret In The Workplace.
My view is that the charges should go beyond ‘moral harassment’. Harassing a person to the point of suicide is murder, or at the very least manslaughter.
Orange France is interesting in so much as people may look at them as an exception. Based on my research they are not an exception; they just got caught and exposed. It highlights that when a company gets exposed, and particularly in this case where it was an open secret, that charges are being laid and accountabilities are being held. But this severe situation deserves far more than a slap on the wrist. These suicides should be considered murder or manslaughter the very least. This would give people, especially family members who are left to pick up the pieces, some solace that companies will be forced with accountability and resultant charges.
In a recent CNN poll on suicide, 85% who responded were impacted someway by suicide. A recent study released by Stats Canada shows the stark reality of suicide, whereby 7-10 people are severely affected as the survivors of each person who dies from suicide. I often cite the Harvard/Stanford study which indicates 120,000 deaths annually which may be attributable to workplace stress. It’s time to ask the question: How many of these premature deaths are related to suicide? Absent research, we know it’s a significant problem and the of people affected need to carry the torch here as a legacy for those who did die from suicide or who attempt suicide.