A criminal court in Brussels on Monday opened a case for harassment and involuntary manslaughter within Bruxelles-Propreté. Employees of the regional agency in charge of rubbish collection in the capital are said to have been subjected to abuse mistreated by their boss Michel N, De Standaard reports.
Bruxelles-Propreté has come under fire in recent years for letting a climate of harassment fester among its employees, as a recent report by De Standaard showed.
In 2013, one of their employees Said Tariki alleged that one of his superiors Michel N. had consistently harassed him and his colleagues, by insulting and calling them "thugs" and "useless" which would also veer into racist comments. Michel N. would also deliberately throw dirt on the ground so that his subordinates would be forced to clean again and again.
As a result, Said Tariki filed a report with Bruxelles-Propreté against Michel N. but this was dismissed by the regional agency and instead Tariki was fired.
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In 2016 however, Tariki took the case to court which ruled that Bruxelles-Propreté had not safeguarded his well-being against persistent racist harassment; the employer was forced to pay €50,000 in damages.
In spite of this, the harassment became so unbearable that Tariki's colleague Didier Fournier committed suicide months after the ruling. "When I got into trouble, he defended me as he could not stand injustices," Tariki told De Standaard, "that is why our superior turned against him."
This saw the case reopened on Monday at a criminal court, where Didier Fournier's family joined in the charges with a complaint for involuntary manslaughter. The verdict of which is expected to be reached in the coming months.