The French law “for the freedom to choose one’s professional future” definitively adopted on 1 August 2018 by the French Parliament and approved on 4 September by the Constitutional Council (Decision No. 2018-769 DC of 4 September 2018) was published in the Journal Officiel on 6 September 2018. The law strengthens the fight against sexual harassment and sexist behavior in companies.

Under the new law, by 1 January 2019 at the latest, certain employers will be required to take measures to combat sexual harassment and sexist behavior in the workplace:

  • The obligation to appoint the following points of contact:

(i) A point of contact in companies with at least 250 employees, responsible for guiding, informing and supporting employees in the fight against sexual harassment and sexist behavior (new article L. 1153-5-1 of the French Labor Code). The objective is to enable victims of such acts to identify a contact person within the company.

(ii) A point of contact nominated by a company’s Social and Economic Committee (Comité social et économique) from among its members, regardless of the number of employees, for a period ending with the term of office of the elected members of the Committee (Article L. 2314-1 of the amended French Labor Code).

  • The reinforcement of the obligation to post the civil and criminal consequences of sexual harassment and the contact details of the authorities and competent services in workplaces and on the premises where the hiring is done. The list of these services will be defined by decree (Article L. 1153-5 of the amended French Labor Code).

These provisions are due to come into force on a date fixed by Decree that is yet to be published, but in any event no later than 1 January 2019.

Labor inspectors and occupational health professionals will also be trained to prevent situations of violence and provide an appropriate response and support to victims. Furthermore, the permanent joint committees of each industrial sector must include in their annual activity report a review of the tools available to companies to prevent and fight sexual harassment and sexist behavior (Article L. 2232-9 of the amended French Labor Code).

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP has a team of knowledgeable lawyers and other professionals prepared to help employers meet their obligations. If you or your organization would like more information on this French law or any other employment issue, please contact an attorney in the Employment and Labor practice group.