Making general and imprecise accusations is not the same as sounding the alarm !

Conseil d’État, December 8, 2023, n°435266

A trade union representative accused his direct superior, without giving any further details, of “misuse of company assets”, “parking spaces for personal use”, denouncing a “long list of offences” as well as “clientelism, nepotism, conflicts of interest” and “illegal taking of interests”.

The dismissal, requested by the employer, was finally authorised by the authorities.

The union representative took his case to court, claiming whistleblower status in order to challenge this authorisation.

The Conseil d’État ruled that this status was not applicable, noting that the union representative had made particularly serious accusations :

– in general and outrageous terms,

– without ever bothering to back them up with the slightest factual element.

In considering that the employee could not “be regarded as having acted in good faith”, the judge emphasised the absence of any details or factual elements provided by the employee, who had nevertheless been given several opportunities to express his views. This “absence of good faith”, which was upheld by the Conseil d’Etat, ruled out any protection for whistleblowers.

Note that the Cour de Cassation is clearly more demanding in that it considers that the employee’s bad faith cannot result not from the unproven nature of the accusations made, but from the employee’s knowledge of their falsity – which must be proven…