The fight against harassment at work is stepping up

Office notebook. Marches against gender-based and sexual violence took place on Saturday, November 20 in several cities in France, organized by the feminist collective #NousToutes as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In Europe, 60% of women (55% in France) say they have been victims during their career of at least one form of gender-based or sexual violence, according to the latest assessment carried out in 2019 by the European Foundation for Progressive Studies.

Since the Weinstein affair and the #metoo campaign of 2017, the floor has certainly been released, but gender-based harassment and violence are still sometimes part of everyday work. “Heavy joke, presentation of erotic or pornographic photo, as soon as there is repetition, there is harassment. One fine day, you will not see the harassed employee, because she or he will be on sick leave, described Me Eric Manca, associate lawyer of the Auguste Debouzy law firm. The Court of Cassation has taken up the issue of moral and sexual harassment and delivered around 100 judgments per year for ten years on these subjects. “

At the end of the year, France has just marked a symbolic turning point in the fight against this violence, by becoming, after Greece and Italy, the third country in Europe to decide to adopt Convention No. 190 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work. The law of 8 November authorizing its ratification provides France with the first international legal instrument relating to the world of work.


Convention No. 190 – which defines harassment and violence at work and requires States to develop policies to eliminate them from the world of work – will not revolutionize the daily life of managers to manage these delicate situations. French law already obliges companies to open an investigation as soon as a report of harassment is declared. The law of September 5, 2018 also created “harassment referents”, which still lack a legal framework.

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The convention also does not give unions or human resources managers additional resources to protect victims. Senator Nicole Duranton (Eure) regretted, in a press release of October 21, that the ratification is not accompanied by new legislative provisions that would change the situation for the victims.

In a report, she proposes, among other things, to make harassment a mandatory topic of the annual negotiations on the quality of life at work and to create new rights for victims to allow them to get to safety and to rebuild themselves. The unions (CGT, FO, CFDT, CFE-CGC) have asked the Minister of Labor “The creation of a tripartite monitoring committee to monitor the implementation of the convention and the recommendation [206] ». On this point, nothing is progressing. France has not taken into account recommendation 206, which is supposed to accompany the ILO convention to “Specify its application”.

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