EuropaCorp founder Luc Besson, already beset by accusations of sexual misconduct, now faces a possible 10-month suspended prison sentence if he is found to have unlawfully fired his former assistant while she was on medical leave, Variety has confirmed.
On top of the 10-month prison sentence, the Paris prosecutor in charge of the case also recommended fines of €30,000 and €50,000 for Besson and EuropaCorp, respectively, during a hearing held Wednesday, according to the general secretary of the high court of Bobigny, near Paris. The court’s decision will be announced Jan. 8.
The assistant, who has not been named in the media, is a single mother in her 50s who worked for Besson for four years starting in 2015, until she was fired in January 2018, allegedly for “serious misconduct.” Prosecutors say she was unlawfully terminated while on a genuine medical leave.
The claimant had been on leave since the previous fall after having been examined by four doctors – including one ordered by EuropaCorp – who said she was not fit to work, Le Monde newspaper reported. One of the doctors questioned EuropaCorp’s management and said the claimant was “suffering.” The claimant, who remained on medical leave for 13 months after being fired by EuropaCorp, alleged that she was treated as a “slave” by Besson during the time she served as his assistant.
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, EuropaCorp pointed that the claimant had previously sued EuropaCorp for discriminatory termination with the labor court (Prud’hommes) and lost the case as the decision dating back from Oct. 9 said that “there were no proof of the discriminatory aspect of the termination.” EuropaCorp said Besson was therefore feeling “serene” while waiting for the decision of the high court of Bobigny.
Besson, who did not attend the hearing, has also been accused of rape by actor Sand Van Roy who filed a new criminal complaint with civil action after the Paris prosecutor dismissed her criminal complaint. A French judge has now reopened the case and will conduct further investigation.
Financially struggling EuropaCorp is in the process of being taken over by New York- based Vine Alternative Investments.