I'm doing research on the effect of highly restrictive working conditions on poverty. More specifically, I'm investigating how a number of low-skill, shift-work jobs in the United States, like fast food workers, retail employees, and cleaning staff, present frequent examples of workers being forced to work unusual hours and strange but not necessarily illegal working conditions under threat of firing.

I've found numerous examples of employees of small restaurants, large and small retail, petrol station employees, and other shift work being hired on reasonable hours and working conditions, and then gradually being shifted to very inconvenient hours and threatened with working those hours or losing their positions.

One man working as a line cook was scheduled to work four times a week, Mondays at night, Thursdays at night, Fridays during the day, and Saturdays during the day even though he specifically informed his employer he could not work on Saturdays as he had another job then. At risk of losing his job, he said he could possibly work every other Saturday, and was at once rescheduled for every other Saturday until the end of the shift schedule. In the coming weeks, the missing Saturdays were added to the schedule, and he now works every Saturday against his will.

Because there are no obvious labor laws being broken, and the legal system is often financially inaccessible to the working-class employees of such businesses, this is rampant among certain American industries. My research now brings me to evaluating the laws that allow such conditions to flourish in the US, and I'm trying to decipher the equivalent laws in France as a comparison, which my research so far suggests that once hired, employees in France are significantly more difficult to remove than their contemporaries in the US.

Do labor laws in France allow for the removal of employees because of scheduling inconsistencies, or indeed non-behavioral grievances on the part of employees?

1 Answer 1


Under French law, in order to be valid, a dismissal must be based on a real and serious cause which must be exact, precise, objective and of a sufficiently serious nature to justify the dismissal. This requirement applies to any type of dismissal regardless of the age / position / length of service of the employee and the headcount of the company.


The conduct that you discuss would only be lawful if the original job ceased to exist i.e. the change in hours was general and another employee did not backfill those shifts.

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