French prosecutors have launched legal proceedings against former France Telecom boss Didier Lombard over allegations of bullying, in connection with a series of suicides at the company, his lawyer announced Wednesday.
Lombard was under police observation and had to pay 100,000 euros (126,000 dollars) in bail, the lawyer said. If found guilty, he faces up to a year in prison and a 15,000-euro fine, dpa reported
The investigation is based on a lawsuit and a report published in early 2010 relating to the series of suicides that took place in 2008-09.
In the report, inspectors reached the conclusion that Lombard and other managers endangered the lives of employees through bullying tactics, and failed to respond to warnings from trade unions, company doctors and health insurers.
In 2010, Sud PTT trade union complained that France Telecom had intentionally created a stressful work environment to push employees into quitting in order to reduce its labour force, and thereby cut costs.
The company shed more than 20,000 jobs under Lombard's watch. The around three dozen suicides among employees were earlier cited as a result poor working conditions.
Lombard, 70, was forced to step down in March 2010. Legal proceedings are also underway against the company and two other senior managers.