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Court finds Orange, former CEO guilty over employee suicides

A court ruled that French telecom operator Orange SA and former CEO Didier Lombard were guilty of moral harassment in relation to a series of staff suicides in the late 2000s, Reuters reported Dec. 20.

Lombard will serve a year in jail, of which eight months will be suspended. Lombard will pay a €15,000 penalty, while Orange was fined €75,000.

The wave of suicides was triggered by a deep restructuring of the company, then known as France Telecom, after its privatization. A 2010 report by labor inspectors reportedly referred to "pathogenic" restructuring methods and impossible performance objectives.

Orange said it will not appeal the court ruling, adding that it implemented measures to prevent workplace suffering and psycho-social risks. The company created a committee to review and negotiate compensation to victims and beneficiaries of the deceased employees.