petite anglaise

March 22, 2007

twist

Filed under: working girl — bipolarinparis @ 1:24 pm

A French industrial tribunal hearing is, in some respects, a surprisingly informal affair. Four Prud’hommes, two employers and two employees who have been elected to hold this position (all salaried employees are eligible to go and vote in these elections, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has) preside over a small salle d’audience in civilian clothing, with the addition of a medal worn proudly around their necks on a red and blue ribbon. The lawyers representing the employees and employers whose cases are being heard wear black gowns with a white ruffle at the neck.

After a roll call at 1pm, the cases are heard one by one, and lawyers, employees, journalists, even members of the general public are free to come and go as they please as long – as they do so discreetly – and to report on the content of the proceedings. In sixth place, my turn didn’t come until 5.30pm. I read, I paced, I chatted to my lawyer. I paced some more. I drank too much coffee.

Lawyers have explained to me that the prud’hommes don’t necessarily have any legal background, and make their decisions based on their combined experience and common sense, decisions which are therefore often open to challenge and taken to the appeals court, where a more traditional, rigorous legal debate can take place. After hearing the arguments put forward orally by both parties’ lawyers the prud’hommes review the supporting documents and written arguments and deliver their decision. Sometimes this is immediate, but in my case the result will be announced in a week’s time. I think this had as much to do with the fact that the session was running late and there were several cases to be heard after mine, as it did with the complexity of the subject up for debate.

How did I feel when the hearing was over? Frustrated.

Because after all that waiting, when the time came, our lawyers were asked to be brief. It seemed to be over in the blink of an eye. I didn’t speak, except to confirm a couple of minor details. I was being spoken for, criticised, but able to do little more than wince or grimace when I disagreed with what was said. And most importantly, I realised that this case is based on words, not actions. My words. Commenters’ words.

And oh how they can be twisted.

No-one is saying that I did a bad job. No-one is saying I was guilty of absenteeism or slacked off or exhibited any sort of disloyal behaviour in the office. My actual performance in my job as secretary to a partner seems to be a moot point. I was fired because when my blog was discovered (or rather its existence reported to my boss by someone who worked with me) my employer read that I sometimes blogged from work, when I had nothing better to do. That a passage about meeting my lover in a hotel implied that I might have lied about my whereabouts on two half days, a year previously. That by blogging about work at all (however rarely I actually did this, and regardless of the fact that I did so under the cloak of anonymity) I was being disloyal to my employer and putting the reputation of the firm at risk.

In addition to making this point – and I think his exact words were “if she’d confessed to murder on her blog, even if there was no actual proof of any wrongdoing, should she go to prison?” – my lawyer used jurisprudence to argue that an employee is not some sort of robot whose time is not their own. The internet has broken down the barriers between the personal and the professional, and previous rulings have shown that workers do have the right to send the odd personal email or use the internet for non work-related surfing, as long as they are doing their job. He argued that freedom of speech permits a worker to discuss what goes on in the workplace, as long as the line is not crossed into libel. Although I was told that the firm objected to certain passages on my blog, I only discovered what these were when the supporting documents for the tribunal case were sent to us a little over a month ago and I saw which extracts they had translated into to French. Clearly if there had been anything libellous, I’d have been sued by now. But either they’re not, or it’s impossible to demonstrate that the people I described were identifiable.

So far, so good.

Predictably, it’s the arguments made by my former employer’s lawyer which I found objectionable. True, they had nothing to support their allegations that I had damaged the firm’s reputation, or even caused any distress to any members of staff prior to my dismissal. The two or three colleagues who had signed a short statement were simply confirming that they knew of the blog’s existence and that they had seen me consult it at work. So in the absence of any hard facts, my words were used against me. Translated into French, taken out of context, a couple of lines from a post, a comment written by me, a comment written by a reader. No clarification about who wrote what, or when. Taken in isolation you can pretty much make words mean whatever you want them to.

So I had to sit there, seething, while my own words were made to lie.

“The subject which is preying on my mind, to the exclusion of all else, is the fraught atmosphere at work. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to exercise caution about what I say.”

“Now, when I have a discussion with my colleagues over lunch, I no longer even know myself whether I’m picking their brains for material for a future post or just having a normal friendly conversation. Unwittingly they have become guinea pigs…”

These two little snippets, taken out of context and wrenched from their rightful place in my blog’s history (September 05 and October 04) were used to imply that just before I left, in April 2006, my blog CAUSED an awkward atmosphere at work. That colleagues had started to be aware of it and now lived in constant fear of what I might say about them. That this made my continued presence in the company impossible. I was pleased when one of the prud’hommes piped up and asked whether there was any evidence to support this, such as written complaints by employees, which of course there weren’t, because hardly anyone knew about the blog, and aside from a couple of descriptions of my superiors, and this isolated example from July 2004, no-one had actually been written about. Ever. But this only mollified me a little.

Because in fact, in the first instance, I was explaining that things were tense with my boss but I realised I should be careful not to talk about that on the blog, in a post where I then went on to provide my readers with a quiz. In the second, I was talking about the effect of blogging on my life, and saying that I sometimes tested my stories out on my friends in conversation to see if they were funny before I wrote them up on the blog.

Anyone who has read petite anglaise knows that I didn’t make a habit of writing character assassinations of my colleagues and friends. But I can’t expect the prud’hommes to read an entire blog in a foreign language to convince them of this fact. Or to know that the words which followed “guinea pigs” were “even though they know nothing about petite anglaise”. Context is all.

The masterstroke at the end was when my ex-employer’s lawyer congratulated me on my book deal, prompting raised eyebrows from all present. The implication being that because I haven’t suffered enough as a result of my sacking, that makes everything alright. Let’s just gloss over those five months which intervened between my sacking and the deal, shall we? The ten kilos I lost through worry. The sleepless nights and constant crying. The apartment purchase which almost fell through. It doesn’t matter if I was wrongfully dismissed or not. Who needs principles when they have something else to fall back on?

Which rather begs the question: if I’d been burgled, but won the lottery the following day, should the thief have been let off scott free because I could afford to replace everything?

90 Comments

  1. “Which rather begs the question: if I’d been burgled, but won the lottery the following day, should the thief have been let off scot free because I could afford to replace everything?”

    Quite. Or, as my own personal tadpole-type-person recently told me: “I think I believe in KORMA, mummy”. I am biting my nails already in anticipation of where things go from here.

    Comment by kitikat — March 22, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  2. x

    Comment by andre — March 22, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

  3. I feel for you PA, really. Been there for last 2.5 years in the family court arguing to keep my 10 year old “tadpole”.

    My TP has lived with me every second week (ie 7 on 7 off)for the past 8 years, and my ex has always been trying to remove me from the picture since she remarried. The final golden bullet was the idea that my TP had “ADHD” … fast fwd 2 years of biased doctors and grasping lawyers with no interest ina result as it would curtail their income stream.

    I ended up spending over $200K and never got to speak or have my team cross examine anyone! not once! Despite the fact that my ex has been committed (we call it “scheduled”) under the mental health act for wait for it … compulsive lying and living in fantasy worlds. I’ve been accused of molestng my girl, the whole gamut.

    I finally sacker the lawyers and settled it myself last week – I clawed it all back except I onloy see her 3d per fortnight as there is now a pattern of living wth the ex, despite this being only the result of the preemptive orders made by the court.

    Courts are not about justice. They are about process. Forget trusting the system to see right done, learn the system and the rules and play the game.

    I wish you well my dear.

    Disco “still the world’s best Dad”

    Comment by Disco — March 22, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

  4. I’m an American attorney, and I have to say that your employer’s case looks incredibly weak. Yes, it could be because I’m a liberal blogger, but come on–they can show zero damage (hurt feelings don’t count even in France, right?) whereas you, in fact, can; you’re absolutely right that the book deal is just extraneous. Your burglary example is particularly erfect in light of the “confession to a murder” horsesh*t. Pardon my English.

    Also, I used to clerk for a judge, and believe me, even lowly law clerks see through manipulated facts and stretched arguments; if you don’t prevail (although you should), it will most likely be based on the way some particular law/standard of proof is written–I don’t know a thing about French law, but in America, unfortunately, employment law is heavily skewed in favor of employers.

    Positive thoughts coming your way from Italia :)

    Comment by sognatrice — March 22, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

  5. Justice systems the world over are very pragmatic. “Answer the question please, don’t elaborate unless we ask you further questions”.

    Good luck Petite. Sounds like a trauma and a half. Hang in for whatever you’re due. Another notch in your character and one that I’m sure will give you added strength.

    Comment by Jez — March 22, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

  6. I second Andre’s comment, and wish you the best of luck with the outcome.

    Comment by Pierre L — March 22, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  7. Best of luck to you Petite.

    Comment by hellojed — March 22, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

  8. All the best. I have a good feeling that regardless of your ‘oppositions’ strong arming tactics that your tribunal members (that french word that I won’t try to reproduce..prud’ something or other) will remember that a couple of hundred years ago the ‘little’ guys like yourself won a revolution against the ‘big’ guys – and that they will realise who is right in the end. Fingers and toes crossed for you! (not sure if finger & toe crossing is done in France – and lest this comment be taken out of context I mean that I wish you luck!!!)

    Comment by Valkyrie — March 22, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  9. july 2004?? have i been reading your blog at least that long? cripes, how time flies.

    best of luck, petite! they are being really slimey, but it sounds like you have the stronger case.

    Comment by franko — March 22, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  10. P

    If living well is the best revenge, then they’ve lost already.

    You’ve got your flat, you’ve got your garret, Tadpole loves you and *whispers employer’s name so the keyboard doesn’t hear* looks ridiculous, and incompetent.

    It has shown the world that it does not have the professionalism to admit defeat and hire a professional – should have taken PR advice long ago, and listened.

    Though from what I know of it, your ex-employer is who would consider PR a little louche – not a real profession.

    Fools.

    Comment by Damian — March 22, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  11. I bet you’re glad they didn’t quote: “My porn star name is Pixie Eden”.

    Comment by Damian — March 22, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  12. You can just call me Chen Camden, by the way.

    Comment by Damian — March 22, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  13. Best of luck, Petite. I’m hoping that reasoning wins out and you prevail. Their case seemed shakey from the start and the french legal system, I find surprising.

    How will they decide a case with so little to go on? Astonishing.

    Comment by Diane — March 22, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  14. Wow.. Petite. Just.. wow. And here I thought the American legal system was a mess! Best wishes and luck to you! (I’d have skipped on the luck, since you shouldn’t need it in a legal proceeding where logic indicates that you’re in the right, but since they seem to have tossed logic out of the window, luck’s all I’ve got. :/)

    Comment by jen — March 22, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  15. Good luck and chin up.
    Delphine

    Comment by Delphine — March 22, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

  16. I work in HR and have occasional experience of British employment tribunals. Here, they focus more on whether the company’s procedures were followed .. e.g. warnings given, opportunities to improve/change etc. If a company didn’t follow it’s own procedures, the ET would be more likely to throw out the case and the dismissal is automatically unfair.

    Was not your company a British one and a large one to boot, so didn’t it have a disciplinary policy? Or are they arguing that it was summary dismissal for gross misconduct?! Surely not! Even then employment law (and I believe this is EU law) says you have to have a hearing to put your own case before dismissal can take effect!

    Whatever, good luck …

    Comment by belle — March 22, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

  17. How dare they use your book deal against you?! Your final example perfectly shows the stupidity of this argument. You had never even mentionned the name of your company for crying out loud!
    I hope there is still justice in France and that your company will be proved wrong.

    I am sure that what happened to you made us all think about what we write in our blogs and how our companies would react to it. I guess I’d be in trouble…!! It’s so easy to twist words out of context.
    But hell we are not in a dicatorial state and as long as we don’t give any names I don’t see why we shouldn’t talk about anything we like in our blogs!

    Best of luck, I can’t wait to hear the result!!! x

    Comment by Em — March 22, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

  18. Bon chance, fingers crossed and all that,

    from the damp Dales of North Yorkshire

    Comment by Adrian — March 22, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  19. It’s not even a question…Absolutely NOT!

    I can only imagine the stress & frustration you must be going through! Having them take your words and manipulate them to their advantage…perhaps you and your lawyer should have, as an example, taken a few of your other passages and plucked things out of context to make it seem like, in addition to enjoying the anguish you were causing at work, you also enjoyed eating small children while dressed as a paedophile tranny. Then they might see exactly how ridiculous the opposition’s twisting of your material really is.

    In either case, I’ll think good thoughts for you. Really hope things go your way!

    Comment by La Cubana Gringa — March 22, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

  20. sounds like they haven’t got a case, but shouldn’t you be careful about blogging about the hearing?!

    Comment by Hope — March 22, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  21. the only people who are bringing the firm into disrepute are the firm themselves, for acting in such a vindictive manner. they’re making themselves a laughing stock. you’ve behaved impeccably.
    x

    Comment by rivergirlie — March 22, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

  22. I think the employer’s case is incredibly weak, but the French being French this is a tough one to call. Well, fingers crossed that common sense and free speech will rule the day. If Oprah could beat the entire Cattleman’s Association (and believe me, they don’t play fair either) when they sued her very publicly for saying “That just stopped me cold from ever eating another hamburger” during a show on mad-cow disease, then we can only hope free speech will win out here as well. Otherwise they are setting a very dangerous precedent. I think your lawyer’s argument was very sound.
    Bon courage! (Or is it “bonne” – I can’t remember.)

    Comment by The Bold Soul — March 22, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  23. What you have here is a classic knee-jerk reaction by your former employer. I have long said it’s the H part of HR that’s the real challenege and this whole mess is why–someone took personal offense to the idea of you blogging and decided to let their emotions dictate their actions. As an HR professional in the states, I can tell you that 90% of my challenges could be avoided if people would leave their feelings out of work. Impossible, yes, but such a shame for you and the ex-employers to have to waste time, money, and other resources over a simple case of hurt feelings.

    You have my best wishes and positive prayers for a speedy, fair result!

    Comment by Leslie — March 22, 2007 @ 5:52 pm

  24. Petite Anglaise,

    Remember that it is not your behavior that is put into question here, it is your employer’s reasons for terminating your employment that are under scrutiny. Given the tidbits of your case read on your blog and on my confrère Eolas’, I am surprised that your former employer left the proceedings go as far without trying to settle the case. The only reason I can think of is that they would be trying to perform some damage control.
    I work in a lawfirm (that will remain anonymous, because I am not a salarié,and I can be terminated at will !) that has a significant practice in employment litigation representing the employers – of course, not the poor, huddled masses of the Paris lumpenproletariat – my colleagues expect an unfavorable decision from the prud’hommes in about 80% of their cases, regardless of the merits and really try to fight the case before the Cour d’Appel judges, because they often feel that the CPs are really to biased in favor of employees.

    So have no fear and keep the faith…

    Comment by Dura Lex, Sed Lex — March 22, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

  25. wow, intense stuff, must have been an awful day for you…..the sense of having no control over proceedings etc. Hope all works out in your favour

    x

    Comment by Susie — March 22, 2007 @ 6:15 pm

  26. Incredible, and a startling reminder for all of us, I think. This e-climate of terror will have most of us censoring ourselves for protection, even though we write because we believe in free speech and rights to personal, non-corporate opinion.

    My former employer also found my blog and gave me the boot. Unfortunately, it was a temp job and he used the excuse that I was a bad PA.

    Everything about the world has changed. We are no longer anonymous in any way, and we are so tightly connected to everyone around us. So what do we do? Censor ourselves as they ask, or risk the treatment you’re currently suffering? It’s ridiculous!

    Comment by Morgan — March 22, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

  27. Hi Petite!

    Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec Dura Lex, Sed Lex, aux prud’hommes le salarié gagne presque à tout coup. Dans votre cas, les arguments de votre employeurs sont si maigres que sa condamnation parait inévitable, de l’avis de tous les spécialistes.

    Bon courage en tous cas !

    Comment by Nemosus — March 22, 2007 @ 6:53 pm

  28. Helas Petite that is an absolutely standard judicial trick. ‘As long as it’s all alright on the night, you won’t count your grievances, will you?’

    I comfort myself with the fact that there are indeed those who suffer worse, whose cause, as writers, we can , at least, champion. Maybe we do have more power in our pens than they all expect? Time will tell.

    However, like you, I don’t count on losing and being dismissed.

    Good luck, the very best of it x

    Comment by fjl — March 22, 2007 @ 7:35 pm

  29. WOW your porn star name is “Pixie Eden”

    Pixie Eden! That’s so fab, it’s the best porn star name ever!

    I’m…I’m minimalising again, aren’t I?

    Comment by Yellow — March 22, 2007 @ 7:36 pm

  30. Sognatrice N° 4

    “your employer’s case looks incredibly weak”

    This is France! where even rumor is admitted as evidence. Please brush up on the Outreau trial in France.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outreau_affair

    Comment by rocket — March 22, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  31. Good luck Petite! I hope your case prevails, but even if it does not, you already have.
    V. from Canada

    Comment by Voyager — March 22, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  32. > the French being French this is a tough
    > one to call

    The French being french, the only question is how many monthes of salary she will receive as compensation. The fact her former employee just *tries* to handle things like that is amazing, they look just like they’re trying to make certain they will have to pay the heaviest compensation for wrongful termination of her job.

    Comment by jmdesp — March 22, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  33. Prediction. “Il divise la poire en deux”

    Employer won’t pay and it will go to appeal.

    We’ll have an answer in 3 years unless it goes to “référé”

    http://www.babylon.com/definition/R%C3%A9f%C3%A9r%C3%A9/French

    But don’t count on it as you are not camping out along Canal St Martin

    Comment by rocket — March 22, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  34. The true damage to their reputation has been done by them when they sacked you so grossly with so little motives and did not have the intelligence to negociate a settlement with you immefiately afterwards.

    Comment by marie-hélène — March 22, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

  35. they will get whats coming to them. don’t you worry. they obviously read your blog knew you were going to go far and decided to start something that would no doubtly get them some kind of publicity. when you book hits the shops everyone will be talking about it. and conversation of what they did to you will sure enough follow as well as the case that is currently going on, thus publicity for them! i hope they go bankrupt because of their foolishness!!

    Comment by Rachel — March 22, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

  36. I’m sorry you came away feeling so frustrated and on top of that have to wait for their decision. How trying.
    In consolation, I can only agree with other comments. Your former employers have not come out of this in a good light at all whereas you have behaved impeccably.
    Hold your head up and keep smiling.

    Comment by sablonneuse — March 22, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  37. I feel for you Petite. The regurgitation of something so frightful is harrowing at least.
    I lost my last job in similar circumstances, although the tenacious and unflinching attack on me came via a very jealous and powerful woman. I didn’t stand a chance. Lawyers, hah! It has taken me two years to look back and laugh, well, smirk!!
    I trust the “judiciary system” will work in your favour. I deplore the fact that your words and, it seems, the consequences of them have been used against you.
    Hold your head high darling. If the truth doesn’t prevail, you can make it so through your wonderful writing xx

    Comment by claire — March 22, 2007 @ 11:17 pm

  38. Good luck! Wait, you don’t really need luck because you’re right. So, be strong!

    Comment by Juti — March 22, 2007 @ 11:18 pm

  39. Petite,

    You are truly amazing – I wish you great luck.
    Although I have not left a message in a while, I have been reading every day for a while now – I had ‘slacked’ for a few weeks and recently read your vacation blogs all at once… I love reading your stuff and send you big luck with your plight.
    I am sure there are many, many silent prayers for you to go along with all of the ones out loud.

    Thanks for helping my light shine brighter because of yours :)

    Eric in Michigan

    Comment by Eric in Michigan — March 22, 2007 @ 11:51 pm

  40. Woo hoo! Go Petite! Am far too drunk to write anything remotely of importance. Albeit to say that having my own mini work crisis recently makes me love the fighting talk! Why do these morons bother? Don’t these people have lives to lead rather than screwing someone over a few words that rather than being whispered at the water cooler have been mentioned online?

    Comment by Sister Louise — March 23, 2007 @ 12:19 am

  41. Hi Petite!
    Goood luck for everything!

    Comment by Patron90 — March 23, 2007 @ 1:53 am

  42. My palms are swaety for you…
    Fingers AND toes crossed!

    Comment by Karma — March 23, 2007 @ 4:01 am

  43. SWEATY! Sorry!

    Comment by Karma — March 23, 2007 @ 4:02 am

  44. “Which rather begs the question: if I’d been burgled, but won the lottery the following day, should the thief have been let off scot free because I could afford to replace everything?”

    see, I told you it was about principle. nicely put.

    Comment by maitresse — March 23, 2007 @ 9:53 am

  45. ‘[was] able to do little more than wince or grimace when I disagreed with what was said’
    How frustrating, Petite. Could you really not intervene at ANY point? Unbelievable! I would have found it impossible to contain myself and would have stood up and shouted at them!

    ‘But I can’t expect the prud’hommes to read an entire blog in a foreign language to convince them of this fact.’
    Well, in a case like this, surely they SHOULD be expected to read the entire blog. The evidence they need is all there, they don’t need to do anything else!! I can testify, if you want! I’ve read it all (OK, nearly – I’m currently reading November 2005. I started reading your blog in March 06, so just a few more months to read!), and the three examples you cite in this (22 March) post are indeed the only ones I remember in which you talk about your employer or your job. And it doesn’t even damage their reputation or hurt them! Aren’t the English supposed to have a great sense of humour?! Humour, fun, that’s all it is!

    Don’t let them get away with it, Petite. Too many employers get away with it, just because they’ve got more power or more money or more influence. One of my friends is currently fighting her ex-employers for unfair dismissal as well (completely different circumstances, though), and it IS harrowing. The lies they come up with!

    Bonne chance, Petite, on est tous avec toi, on adore ton blog, continue, et ne laisse pas les Prud’hommes te distraire de l’écriture de ton blog ou de tes livres. Tu as déjà gagné de toute façon.

    Comment by Lotus Flower — March 23, 2007 @ 11:41 am

  46. You know, I knew there was a reason that I wanted to be a lawyer on the European side of the pond. You have such an open and shut case, it is sad that you must go through the motions and stop-motions of legal procedeings. I wish you the best and hope for a quick and just decision.

    Comment by Troy — March 23, 2007 @ 11:48 am

  47. I’ve been reading petite anglaise for the past few weeks now, just stumbled across you by chance whilst searching on google for some advice about young children in Paris and something came up on Tadpole.

    I found I had quite a lot in common with you: mid-thirties, English, living in Paris for the past ten years, with a little boy “tadpole” and I live not far from you in the REAL part of Paris, in the 20th (Gambetta).
    Anyway, this is the first time I’ve sent you a comment and I just wanted to say good luck to you with your tribunal, I know many people who have gone through the “prud’hommes” system here in Paris, and if its any consolation they all won their cases, although some of the cases dragged on for a two or three years before final conclusion.
    I’m now an avid reader of petite anglaise, as I really “clicked” with you and your description of your daily life here in Paris. Good Luck with everything (tribunal, book, etc).

    Comment by Nicola — March 23, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  48. I don’t usually go in for “me toos”, but hey, wishing you every strength in the trials ahead Petite.

    Comment by Penny in Amsterdam — March 23, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  49. Wishing you well and hoping all turns out for the best — you’re already a great success in my mind. They’re just fools for not realizing what a hot commodity they were losing when they let you go…

    Comment by Alice — March 23, 2007 @ 4:37 pm

  50. Good luck. Whatever the outcome, you now know it is almost over, and that must be a relief. It has been going on for what, a year now?

    Comment by Cheria — March 23, 2007 @ 5:52 pm

  51. Kitty and I are keeping our paws/fingers crossed. And our drinking trousers pressed, just in case. mwah!

    Comment by rhino75 — March 23, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

  52. I do hope everything works out, I really do – I once worked with a blogger, who DID bitch out everyone in sight, by name, at work – and it created a hell of an atmosophere. What was more sad, we all knew, all read it and couldn’t bring ourselves to say anything – well, actually I was too angry – but when it all came out, as these things always do, the person in question DENIED THEY’D WRITTEN THE DAMN THING. Once they admitted they had written a blog, they went round each person saying ‘well, I never mentionned you’ – and each of us could give names and dates of when our appearance and mood had been pulled apart and discussed.

    Once again – your blog – nothing like this. It’s far more interesting for a start!

    Comment by sas — March 23, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  53. >

    Umm…except the hot commodity part did not come until after the let go part.

    Comment by chupa — March 23, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  54. If blogmeets were still chic, you’d have fifty-odd people outside your boss’s door with many-a placard. Best of luck to you. Your blog is one of the best I’ve seen!

    D. x

    Comment by Despy — March 23, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  55. Bonjour Petite.

    Sorry it was so stressful, and here’s hoping that everything can be resolved toute suite.

    love Janex

    Comment by Jane Henry — March 23, 2007 @ 8:32 pm

  56. I’m not even surprised that the “congratulatory” comment resulted in raised eyebrows. I almost expect the French court to be stupid enough to take your new career into account in their verdict, when clearly they shouldn’t as it is not relevant in determining whether or not you were wrongfully dismissed.

    I feel a little guilty saying that…but I don’t have a lot of confidence in the intelligence of the French judicial branch…their laws seem so wreckless, unrealistic, or nonsensical, sometimes.

    Comment by Mlle Smith — March 23, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  57. In a place where eloquence should be the norm I feel your former employer’s comment was crass beyond adequate description.

    Wishing you the best…

    TT.

    Comment by TryingTimes — March 24, 2007 @ 6:11 am

  58. I agree with some of the above said, they do not seem to have a case. And the arguments made by your counsel seem to be well made, and would support the inpact modern day technology has on our lives.
    However, it is all in the hands of laymen, a few sound good men(?). I sincerely hope they are sound.
    I´ll keep my fingers crossed.

    Comment by Ellen — March 24, 2007 @ 9:51 am

  59. The whole thing is rife with sexual innuendo and backstairs intrigue. But who am I to judge?

    Comment by Trevor — March 24, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  60. Hi Petite,

    I really feel for you. Whatever happened to freedom of speech??! I think you are being very unfairly treated, especially if commenter’s words are being brought into it. That’s not fair atall!

    Lots of luck

    Comment by Princesse Ecossaise — March 24, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  61. Eurgh, how awful that you don’t seem to have been given proper chance to defend yourself against such spurious accusations.

    What idiots they are. Good luck.

    Incidentally, what do you stand to lose if the case goes against you, and what do they stand to gain? Will you have to pay them anything, or vice versa?

    Comment by clare — March 24, 2007 @ 4:37 pm

  62. Sorry, but I think I beat you in the best porn name competition. Mine is Fudgie Palm.

    Comment by peggy — March 24, 2007 @ 9:11 pm

  63. Which rather begs the question: if I’d been burgled, but won the lottery the following day, should the thief have been let off scot free because I could afford to replace everything?

    Yes, excellent point and you won’t get an argument out of me. I am 100 percent on your side.

    Is it fair to bring up your book deal? Hell, no. But the trouble is that the law is a zero-sum game. I was nearly a lawyer but thought better of it and — to mix the metaphor — jumped ship just in time; however, the legal way of looking at certain situations persists enough that were I (God forbid) your former employer’s attorney, I would have, nastily, brought up that exact point. And were I your counsel, I would have countered, evincing massive injured indignation, with just the point you made. I hope that your lawyer had the opportunity to do that.

    What it comes down to, alas, is whose representative makes the best impression.

    If this prud’hommes thing goes against you, do you have another level of appeal? J’éspère que oui.

    Comment by Passante — March 24, 2007 @ 11:47 pm

  64. You looked brilliant in last Sunday’s Times-now, how important is that in the scheme of things? Best of luck to you.

    Comment by cak — March 25, 2007 @ 12:17 am

  65. Was wondering how it went so glad to get the ringside report.

    It’s a game – a rather bloody and emotional one for you, but nevertheless. You’ll win out in the end.

    Plus, you get to publish the definitive account – the one everybody reads. Each time they twang a nerve, you get to write another page. ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’

    Take good notes – not just factual, but of the sort that gives more material to write about.

    Stuff just happens, Petite, innit?

    Comment by andrew — March 25, 2007 @ 1:35 am

  66. These tribunals can be really stressful – but you’re behaving impeccably, it seems to me. What amateur procedure though, bits of this and that being read out without context.
    I suspect the final ‘congratulations on the book’ comment was made to prejudice the court against you – you’ve got a book deal = a) you’re now a millionairess ;-) and b) the libel, if there is any, has been reproduced in book form. I doubt the Prud’hommes will be swayed by that. There’s so obviously nothing in this except picking on one person who was doing something personal in the firm’s time, shock horror – pour encourager les autres.

    Comment by Horatio — March 25, 2007 @ 3:17 am

  67. (Even in the most trying of times… there is Trevor.)

    ! Good luck !

    Comment by eric — March 25, 2007 @ 6:13 am

  68. Hi, Petite

    Short term mission in Beirut. Even as being a genuine Frog -sorry, not yours- they bring me the English spoken sunday pile of papers.
    You’re again half page in the Sunday Times !

    Another good counter advertisement for our formers employers.

    You’ve already won the case: their reputation, image building, customer recognition and all the marketing stuff they (perhaps) struggled to build is what it should be, a mess of bitter ashes.

    Comment by Saluki — March 25, 2007 @ 8:15 am

  69. Bonne chance and good luck.

    Comment by Géronimo — March 25, 2007 @ 8:56 am

  70. It’s bizarre, popping up in newspapers and finding out only because my readers/dad’s morris dancing buddies stumble across my picture. Any pictures must be old, incidentally, from last summer, as no fresh ones have been taken…

    Comment by petite — March 25, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

  71. Hi Petite
    I cannot comment on the article in the Sunday Times since I stopped buying it after the discussion about how they bullied “One Track”, not to mention what they did to you, of course.
    Best of luck with the prud’hommes.

    Comment by Pierre L — March 25, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

  72. No doubt about it, blogging is a dangerous sport.

    Comment by Lost in France — March 25, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

  73. Maybe they think you should pay them since your life has turned out to be so much better than before, or so it seems. They did you a big favour.

    Comment by Jen — March 25, 2007 @ 10:06 pm

  74. Actually, yes, they would like €5,000 in legal fees. Which my lawyer assures me would be pretty much unheard of, the employee rarely has to pay anything, but still didn’t warm my cockles much when I heard about it.

    Comment by petite — March 25, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  75. Petite – If they do try that on, we’ll club together and pay the 5K for you.

    Courage

    H

    Comment by Horatio — March 26, 2007 @ 12:34 am

  76. €5,000 in legal fees – is that all? When I was the employer with a tribunal hearing set down my team suggested I would be lucky to get a bill for less than ten grand, so €15,000. And this was 15 years ago. Don’t suppose your Paris lawyers dine any less well than at Lincoln’s Inn. Mind you, in Petite’s case with the lack of precendent and the notoriety of the plaintiff – sorry – defendants – the fees could go much higher than that. Like, double I should think. And if you have a really devious lawyer you could keep them in court for days what with adjournements…

    Mind you, this is the reason employers in the UK are often advised to settle before the hearing even if they manifestly aren’t at fault. Like I did(!)

    Comment by andrew — March 26, 2007 @ 2:22 am

  77. I thought of you monday 19th. I was just in the same place and feeling pretty much the same. That’s awful to hear them and not being able to strike back beacause when your are the plainteef, they speak last. Lucky I was #2. I would have been too nervous waiting. I was fired just back from my maternity leave after 8 years in the same company, without much of any thing against me in the case. They thought I would just stand their hit and do nothing to defend myself. It took 2.5 years before being heard in court. That was part of their stategy to demotivate me. I was lucky at the end because those judges saw through those mischieves and mad me win. I got the news in the evening. Sometimes a little good sense and less legal academics bring out truth. I’m confident everything will end up all right for you. And it feels so good to be acknowledged your point. It’s like therapy.

    Comment by Sop — March 26, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

  78. What arguments did your attorney make to counter the evidence presented by the employee’s attorney? Did he at least point out the context of the chosen snippets of writings?

    Comment by Adam — March 26, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

  79. I appreciate that you probably have the more serious aspects uppermost in your mind but, just to show that I was listening, did they attempt at any point to translate ‘twunts’?

    Comment by meredic — March 26, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

  80. Oh and yes. I am as one with Horatio. If you have to cough up then I have a spare euro. Twunts!

    Comment by meredic — March 26, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  81. As Sop says, my lawyer spoke first, and so there was no opportunity to counter the arguments I disagreed with (without interrupting, but that is apparently frowned upon), because he couldn’t then speak again at the end. Most frustrating.

    Comment by petite — March 26, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

  82. Petite – once this whole saga is over, I hope you write the book above books and name that ex-boss of yours. Go girl!

    Comment by teeweewonders — March 26, 2007 @ 11:51 pm

  83. Dear Petite,

    I too think that they have lost. And I also think that they don’t really know why they are going through with this. They feel “hurt”, but they haven’t really got any proper evidence, so they are digging themselves deeper and deeper, trying to make themselves look better.

    It seems that blogs can be very emotive things………

    I have managed, quite inadvertently to upset my amateur dramatic society with my blog, by having a piece published in the local paper, as a result of writing a blog about falling off the stage (literally) in the middle of a performance. The normal thing might have been to send flowers and a get well card, but instead they have virtually excluded me from the group!!! Not quite the same as being dooced from your job, admittedly, but hurtful, very, none the less………Pathetic on my part perhaps. But, for me, it mattered. A lot.

    I sympathised with you before Petite, but now, and only now understand how really hurt you must have felt. Having to go through all this tribunal nonsense is awful for you. And PAY for their fees? Like hell you should!!!!!!!!

    I shall buy your book the day it is published!!!

    Sally

    Comment by Sally Lomax — March 27, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  84. Pah, who cares about what THEY think? This is the chance to use the court case to your advantage for maximum publicity. You go show’ em!

    Comment by Ariel — March 27, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  85. Wow. That is frustrating. When I’m in court, we usually go back and forth until everyone has had a chance to at least argue, and counter-argue. Sometimes it can go back and forth a few times until the judge calls an end to it.

    Comment by Adam — March 27, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

  86. What amazes me is that your former bosses are prepared to make themselves look so petty and feeble-minded, scraping the barrel for snippets that still have to be twisted to make you look bad. They have done far more harm to their own reputation than your few, unidentifiable comments ever could – what on earth does this say about their judgment.
    Fingers still crossed for you.

    Comment by Pippa — March 27, 2007 @ 6:27 pm

  87. It’s quite surprising that your employers didn’t settle out of court, but on the basis that all publicity is good publicity, maybe they’re happy to let it run after all.

    I hope it works out well for you – as indeed it already has. And regardless, you take your integrity forwards with you, and that is worth much more than money.

    Comment by Roads — March 28, 2007 @ 11:40 am

  88. I’m stunned. My fingers are crossed for you.

    Comment by JChevais — March 28, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  89. I saw you in Le Parisien and thought of you. I’ve just come out of a big fight with my employer. And I know how much the clash can pick away at your self confidence. So anyway, be strong. Take pleasure in your book. And know that you are moving onto better things. xxx anglosaxonne.
    PS am a mate of Rhino and hope to meet you someday

    Comment by anglosaxonne — March 29, 2007 @ 9:17 am


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