international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

France: Employer’s Neutrality Obligation in Professional Elections

The French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) has recently handed down a decision that sets a rule in professional elections: “the employer’s neutrality obligation is an essential principle in electoral law”. The employer cannot favor, directly or indirectly, one of the candidate lists or a trade union, and must allow for equal access to communications and propaganda between trade unions.

In the case at hand, a trade union complained that a propaganda message from a competing trade union had been sent from the company Works Council email address. The claimant argued that this constituted an inappropriate use of company communication methods. The judges held that the lack of response by the employer, after this email, created an imbalance in access to the available propaganda.

This lack of neutrality was sufficient to annul the elections, even without having to prove that the email had any real influence on the outcome of the elections.