have a friend who works for a company that requires her to share a hotel room with a colleague when she travels on business. This is bad under any circumstances. It is especially bad if you’re sick, pregnant, congested, flatulent, somnambulant; if you’re a night owl or an early bird; if you have a medical condition necessitating privacy; or if you just prefer to spend your precious downtime bingeing “Love Is Blind” in a judgment-free zone. Being forced to see a co-worker in a towel or listen to her snore ought to be illegal. Despite raising obvious issues with sexual harassment and with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is not.
Thankfully, there’s France, home of the right to ignore your e-mail on the weekend and the right not to eat at your desk. In another win for workplace dignity, one of the nation’s highest courts recently suggested that businesses cannot force their employees to participate in office parties and other supposedly enjoyable activities. The case dates back to 2015, when a man, known as Monsieur T., sued his former employer, the Paris-based management-consulting firm Cubik Partners, for wrongful termination. Monsieur T.’s demand for reinstatement was dismissed in labor court. An appeals court then found that Cubik had not erred in letting him go for, among other things, failing to take part in a workplace culture that the company calls, in a bit of corporate Franglish, “fun & pro.” In its recent decision, however, the high court overturned that ruling. Citing the European Convention on Human Rights and the French labor code, the court held that Monsieur T. had no obligation to attend retreats and Friday apéros. In fact, his bosses’ expectation that he join in violated his freedom of expression. Call it, as Arte did, “the right not to be fun.”