Employment lawyers hear about employee abuse every day. Generally, abusive environments are created at a company when the executive staff sets unrealistic expectations and goals and then hires overzealous and immature middle management to execute.
This environment empowers rogue managers and department heads with enormous egos to feel that they must treat their subordinates poorly in order to succeed. This can range from hostile work environments to rampant sexual harassment.
Sadly, Orange, a French Telecom company employing about 100,000 people seems to have done this worse than most. It appears that the company, as a whole, has instilled a culture so bad that employees are literally committing suicide to escape. For the past several years, employees at Orange have committed suicide at a much higher rate than the national average. According to the Irish Times:
The company’s former boss Didier Lombard resigned after 35 employees took their own lives between 2008 and 2009.
He was lambasted and forced to apologise after suggesting suicide was a “fashion” at the company. In 2012, Mr Lombard was put under formal police investigation accused of installing “brutal management methods” that amounted to “moral harassment”.
Le Parisien published an internal company document from 2006 in which Lombard allegedly told directors he was determined to cut 22,000 jobs, adding “I’ll do it in one way or the other, by the window or by the door.”
Mr Lombard denied that his methods were the cause of the deaths. He remains under investigation. An official report by the works inspectorate in 2010 blamed a climate of “management harassment” it said had “psychologically weakened staff and attacked their physical and mental health”.
CNN has also covered this employment story. It appears that this company has a brutal culture and hostile management.