Sunday, November 27, 2022

There’s nothing wrong about wanting not to have fun at work

A French employee, fired for refusing to participate in after-work drinks and other "team building" activities, has won the legal right "not to be fun" at work.

The man, named in his lawsuit only as "Mr. T," was fired for "professional incompetence" — specifically his refusal to adhere to the company's "fun" values. According to the Court of Cassation (France's highest court), the company's "fun" values included regular obligatory social events that included "excessive alcoholism encouraged by colleagues who made very large quantities of alcohol available," plus "practices pushed by colleagues involving promiscuity, bullying, and incitement to various excesses."

The court ruled that Mr. T's refusal to participate was merely his exercise of his "fundamental freedom of expression," which could not be a basis for his termination.

That's French law. In American law, there is no "fundamental freedom of expression" that protects one's right not to have fun. That doesn't mean, however, that we can't learn something from this case. While we should enjoy our jobs and our workplaces should be places to which we enjoy going, it isn't a frat house, nor should it be. It's called "work" for a reason. Alcohol, promiscuity, and other "excesses" have no place at work, period (not to mention the other liabilities they cause). To refuse participation is not expressing one's "right" not to "have fun;" it's a common sense separation of activities that have no place in the workplace to begin with.

Thus, whether your workplace is in France, America, or wherever, treat it like a workplace and not like a frat house. And don't punish employees who just want to do their jobs (you know, the thing for which you pay them) and go home.