A dentist was ordered by France’s top court to pay damages for sexually abusing a female assistant after the man was cleared of related criminal charges.
In a milestone ruling last month, the Cour de Cassation said the bar is lower for proving harassment in civil lawsuits than in criminal cases, where intent is key. The judges said the dental assistant was entitled to unfair-dismissal damages after complaining about her boss’s inappropriate language.
The dental assistant filed a labor lawsuit after being fired by the dentist in 2013, claiming she had been sexually harassed by her boss. Two years ago, an appellate court awarded her damages over the dismissal, but the dentist appealed.
The ruling creates a clearer path for victims of abuse to seek compensation. While sexual harassment is seen to be widespread in France — affecting as many as a third of women according to an Ifop poll