“Balance your start-up”, “Balance your agency”… for or against these denunciations on social networks?

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Au 27 janvier, le compte Instagram @balancetastartup compte 148.000 abonnés.

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Posted on Jan 28, 2021 at 6:45 am

Last September, three students from the Emlyon business school launched the @balancetonstage Instagram account in reaction to the sexist behavior suffered by many interns. At the same time, @balancetonagency was born to highlight toxic management in the advertising and communication sector. Speech is freed, two powerful founders of advertising agency fall. More recently, the @balancetastartup account caused an earthquake in the start-up nation. Last week, he revealed the numerous alleged breaches of employment law at Lõu Yetu, a young jewelry brand. Since this incident, whistleblower accounts have flourished in many sectors of activity: consulting firms, journalism, fashion houses and even in hospitals.

If for the labor law lawyer, Elise Fabing, these accounts are necessary to become aware of violence at work, in the eyes of Juliette Chapelle, a criminal lawyer, these platforms pass for people's courts, guilty of expeditious decisions.

FOR: Elise Fabing, lawyer in labor law and founder of Alkemist lawyers

“Today, the means made available to an employee who wishes to denounce an illegal work situation are insufficient. The actors involved (staff representatives if there are any, occupational physician or labor inspector) have no real binding power.

If the employer does not react, the only solution for the employee, if he has sufficient information, is to seize a labor tribunal or to initiate criminal proceedings (in the case of a offense). Except that in practice, it is often unlivable to stay in office when this type of approach is launched. Judgment delays are mind-boggling in most jurisdictions. In Nanterre, they are… 45 months! All the while, the employee must live with zero compensation for his injury. And the average condemnation in fine for acts of moral harassment is of the order of 7,000 Pounds. It's not enough.

Today, the threat of litigation does not frighten companies, the risk being considered low and remote, not to mention that the impact on their cash flow is not dissuasive, especially when the employee has little seniority. In this context, free speech on social networks is necessary to become aware of violence at work. These Instagram accounts distribute anonymous testimonials and issue alerts on deviant behavior in certain companies. In any case, they do not set themselves up as people's courts: the managers of these pages also want to give a voice to the company in question. She has a right of reply, and the libel action is open to her.

These accounts, in addition to fighting against bad practices at work, allow the companies concerned to question their management methods, to conclude company agreements that are more protective of employees and to take care of their employer brand. For example, the Balance ton Agency account and the Les Lionnes association made it possible to set up in-depth work within the association of communication consultancy agencies (AACC), to improve the working conditions of employees. of the sector.

When the world of work is fair and balanced, these accounts will no longer exist, but their contribution is extremely important.

AGAINST: Juliette Chapelle, criminal lawyer, in charge of numerous cases in criminal labor law

“Free speech is always a good thing. However, it is important to do this in a suitable setting. The accounts which consist in denouncing companies or managers presumed to be toxic are more and more numerous on social networks. However, I do not think that these platforms are an appropriate framework and act effectively against harassment or to fight against abuse in the world of work. The central problem is that there is no contradictory on social networks, which is not their role. The stigma is therefore cast on an employer without the latter being able to give his version of the story. On social networks, the accused person does not have the means to defend himself. She is directly condemned or even cyber harassed by Internet users who have only one version of the facts.

If we take the example of the jewelry brand Lõu Yetu targeted by the Instagram account @balancetastartup, the founder was forced to almost immediately delete her personal account, surely, because of the surge of insults and malicious comments . These harassing behaviors can bankrupt a business or even destroy lives. It is important to be aware of the scope of such accusations and their impact in real life.

From my point of view, it is necessary to initiate legal proceedings rather than denouncing in order to denounce. In criminal or industrial proceedings, both parties testify, provide evidence and can make their voices heard. In a court of law, the situation always appears much more complex, much less Manichean than that denounced on networks like Instagram or Twitter. Justice, unlike what happens on social networks, will not condemn on assertions, allegations, but on evidence, objective elements such as testimonies from other employees, emails or recordings (especially at criminal).

Also, if both employees and employers set about solving their problems on social media, workplace relations could suffer. How to create a bond of trust in such a context? How to behave when you are afraid of being trapped, of being recorded without your knowledge? How to advance professionally when you fear being accused of toxic management on social networks? Even in the age of Twitter and Instagram, we must be able to sit around a table to resolve a conflictual situation.

Today, some employees may be tempted to denounce their employers on social networks rather than appealing to justice – in need of budget, judges, judicial personnel – to obtain redress. A trial is always a difficult psychologically and financially heavy test, all the more so as the delays whether in criminal or industrial tribunal are long. As long as justice does not benefit from an additional budget to overcome these difficulties, it will always be tempting for some to destroy a reputation via a bad buzz on social networks, without the person in question being able to defend himself. “

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