The public prosecutor requested Thursday against Laetitia Avia 1 year suspended prison, € 10,000 fine and 5 years ineligibility. Former MP En Marche! was prosecuted for psychological harassment at work for alleged acts to the detriment of seven former parliamentary assistants, five of whom joined the proceedings as civil parties.
The prosecutor speaks of a "complex offence" but ultimately goes into little legal complexity. She takes up the accusations made by both sides and tries to convince the court that the offence is constituted. For her, there is no doubt: the complainants were victims of harassment related to their origin, sexual orientation, body size or appearance. The magistrate takes up their grievances, in fact a great whole, stigmatizes the "permanent solicitations, the fussy surveillance [of Ms. Avia] via the Telegram network, the humiliations and denigrations". The result, according to her, is "insecurity and the fear of triggering the anger" of an abusive boss.
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In his eyes, the assistants were placed in an untenable situation, anxious not to "compromise their future" while having to "resist the infernal pressures" to which they were subjected. Has the prosecutor's office really demonstrated that the court was faced with acts of harassment – its representative rarely uses the term – as defined by law? In any case, the defendant "ignored all the flashing lights" and continued her destructive activities, concludes the prosecutor before requesting a significant sentence.
"Humor in the thousandth degree"
The defense launches into a very legal analysis by the voice of Me Vanessa Friedland. A seasoned specialist in labour law, this excellent lawyer recalls the case law of the Court of Cassation to throw prevention to the nettles. Were there "identical and repeated acts" targeting not a group, but a particular individual? No, she says. Is it proven that a "deterioration of working conditions" would result from the employer's actions? No more, continues Mr. Friedland, very convincing. She notes that no formal denunciation of the alleged facts was made, that her client was never informed that she was implicated by anyone, that neither the inspectorate nor occupational medicine – the only ones empowered to establish causality between bullying and their consequences – were seized. However, according to the Court of Cassation, "the employer must be alerted and persist" for the offense of moral harassment at work to be constituted.
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On the subject of Ms. Avia's questionable pronouncements, Mr. Friedland speaks of "humor to the thousandth degree" and notes that the complainants, too, were not stingy with dirty jokes. It highlights a note in which alleged victims congratulated themselves at the time for having a "super boss" before giving the floor to Me Basile Ader. He deplores the fact that the case was not entrusted to an investigating judge but managed from A to Z by the prosecutor's office, author, in his eyes, of a direct quotation of the most vague. Above all, he insists on the revelation of the case not by judicial means, but by Mediapart. Mr. Ader maintains that the site, fiercely opposed to the Avia bill on online hate, has fabricated a cabal to discredit it at the time of the examination of its text. He sees, in the unanimity of the complainants, a "pack effect" but also an "implausible duplicity, an immense disloyalty" since not only did none of the assistants complain to his boss, but some were offended by the Mediapart article to which they had collaborated. Quite logically, Me Ader asks for pure and simple relaxation. Judgment on 5 July.