Is boredom at work a justifiable case for legal action? Image: Shutterstock

Thursday 12th May 2016

Chairman of the Bored

The Villain: Is ennui really a valid reason for a tribunal?

Where to start, dear readers. Where to start.

A workplace news story has caught my eye, containing many of the elements that get my mouth watering and my spleen twitching: a high-profile tribunal; a flimsy premise for said tribunal; the French. As you can imagine, this set off every alarm bell at once.

It’s the tragic case of Frédéric Desnard, a former employee of French perfume manufacturer Interparfums who is pursuing a tribunal because he claims his job was too boring.

Yes, too boring. Desnard claims the firm made his job so tedious it resembled a ‘descent into hell’. He’s reportedly seeking €360,000 (£282,000) in compensation and damages in what is apparently the first case of its kind.

French media reporting on the case have described the scenario faced by Desnard as a ‘bore-out’; the less exciting, more pedestrian-paced equivalent of a burn-out. He claims his employer deliberately relegated him to a series of dull, unimportant responsibilities which left him feeling he was making little constructive contribution to the firm and that he was simply treading water. A situation otherwise known as ‘going to work for a living’.

Failure to grasp facts

I’ve got a bit of a problem with poor old Frederic, you see. I think he’s failing to grasp the fact that it’s not the responsibility of an employer to keep their staff entertained. It seems he’s getting his management board mixed up with a bunch of children’s entertainers. Which, based on what I’ve seen in many boardrooms in my time, isn’t a huge misunderstanding – but that’s beside the point.

I’m sorry, but boredom is part of what we call being an adult. If Desnard wanted sandpits and Play-Doh every day, he should have deliberately flunked his primary school leaver’s exams and tried to stay there. It might have required a rigorous hair-removal regime and some intense growth-stunting smoking to fool the authorities, but the guy’s French; I’m sure it’s not beyond him.

In my view, it’s an implicit part of every employee’s contract; that their employer is completely entitled to bore their staff senseless in the course of their job. It’s all part of the fun of being a boss, isn’t it?

In my case, I even go to extra effort by writing this stuff – to make sure you’re *really* bored. It’s not just a day job.

Speaking of his ordeal, Desnard said: “I was ashamed of being paid for doing nothing”. And that, for me, is where his case falls down. Because for most employees that is surely their dream scenario?

Sorry Frédéric, chum – I simply don’t believe you. And that’s the line that gave you away.

About the author

The Villain

The Villain is not here to be nice.