France Declares Right to Avoid Office Parties

This is the holiday season — a time for gathering with friends, family, and co-workers for delightful celebrations that bring us all closer together and inject fun into our lives. Unless you are an introvert, that is. If so, then ‘tis the season for energy-draining, awkward, and uncomfortable obligatory social interaction.

If you find all of the festivities a bit too much, you might consider moving to France. There’s not a lot that can be done to spare you from your family and friends, but in terms of the workplace, if you don’t want to be forced to have fun, you have the law on your side.

On November 9, 2022, the highest court of France, the Court of Cassation, gave a resounding victory to introverts everywhere. It decided the case of an individual who lost his job after refusing to participate in seminars and weekend social events that his employer said were intended to instill the company’s “fun” professional values.

The individual is referred to in the opinion as “Mr. T.” Sadly, it does not appear to be THE Mr. T of A-Team fame. What we wouldn’t give to see him on the witness stand, telling the court, “I pity the poor fool who forces me to socialize!”

Mr. T was fired in 2015. His employer claimed that it was for work-related reasons, but Mr. T said it was because he didn’t want to take part in all of the various “fun” activities that were forced upon him.

The court ruled in Mr. T’s favor. It found that his right to freedom of expression — and the right to avoid it — is protected by Article 10, section 1, of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. (Read the opinion here.)

Mr. T also asserted that his claim was supported by Article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This was approved by France’s National Assembly on August 26, 1789. In other words, the right to be introverted dates back to the beginning of the Republic.

Liberty, Equality, and Introversion! That’s a national motto we can get behind.

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