A former BNP Paribas SA regional director is suing the lender, claiming that her husband got a new job where he had no choice but to give up after vetoing his request to work remotely from the French Riviera.
Sandrin Sustar, who is based in the northern city of Lille and specializes in real-estate financing for wealthy clients, argues that working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown did not create any problems and therefore there was no reason to stop her. In the south of France so that she, her husband and their two children could live together.
“He was proposing to return to office once a week at his own expense,” Suster’s lawyer, Eva Nabet, told a hearing at the Paris Employment Tribunal last week. “But the company refused.”
Suster says she was forced to resign and is seeking about 100,000 euros ($ 107,000) under a legal process that allows employees to collect unjustly-fired payouts if they can show that their employer’s behavior was so heinous that they could not stay.
The case highlights growing tensions among banks eager to see more staff return to office and growing tensions among employees who have tasted the freedom to work from home during the coronavirus epidemic.
Employee resistance has forced some bank executives to soften their expectations, and Credit Suisse Group AG CEO Thomas Gottstein said in Davos this week that he did not think banks would return to full-time office. JPMorgan Chase & Co. Its chief Jamie Damon, one of the vocal critics of the remote work, acknowledged earlier this year that it would “make American business more sustainable.”
BNP lawyer Sarah Houchin said the bank’s personal finance unit was keen to keep Sustar on board but did not want to offer any special benefits.
“The BNP has nothing to do with working 100 percent from home,” Hauchin told the tribunal. Why does the BNP have to agree to something that does not exist?
Suster’s decision to leave and move to the French Riviera was a personal choice. “The BNP is not responsible,” Houchin said. “The BNP was not forced to adapt to the limitations or wishes of its employees.”
In the BNP, the rules were changed a year after Suster left in September 2020, and French workers are now allowed to work 2.5 days off a week. BNP representatives declined to comment further on the Paris case.
Among other allegations, Suster’s attorney alleged that the BNP did not help his client go to the bank before the epidemic. Nabet says Suster applied for a job in Nice or Bordeaux but his candidacy was rejected. After leaving the BNP, Suster switched careers and began pursuing an interior decorating course funded by the French Unemployment Office.
The verdict in the case is expected on June 22.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)