Disabled French woman sues employer after getting full salary for 20 years without work

For most people, what might be considered a dream job turned into a nightmare for a French woman who recently made headlines by suing telecom giant Orange. She alleged that the company paid her salary for 20 years without assigning any work.

Laurence Van Wassenhove sued her employer, claiming she was paid without being given any tasks. Laurence, who has partial paralysis and epilepsy, was hired by Orange in 1993 and says she was sidelined after requesting a transfer due to her disability.

Early in her career, she successfully performed roles that suited her abilities, such as secretarial and HR duties. However, in 2002, she requested a transfer to a different location within France.

According to her legal team, the transfer did not meet her needs, and instead of finding suitable solutions, Orange stopped assigning her any work. According to Wassenhove, this was done in an attempt to force her to leave the company without firing her directly.

Despite receiving her full salary for the next two decades, Van Wassenhove claims she suffered emotional distress due to her unusual situation. She asserts that being paid without any responsibilities made her feel professionally abandoned and increased her sense of isolation.

Orange maintains that it acted appropriately, considering her medical condition and exploring all possible options for her to return to work in a suitable position. However, the company noted that her frequent sick leaves complicated the process.

Van Wassenhove’s lawyers argue that Orange failed to provide adequate accommodations for her disability, effectively placing her in a professional deadlock with limited opportunities for advancement.

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