Anxiety From Asbestos Exposure: French Compensation Model Extended To Other Toxic Substances

Author:Ms Françoise Labrousse, Emmanuelle Rivez-Domont, Elodie Simon and Gabriel Ferran
Profession:Jones Day

In April 2019, the French Supreme Court opened the way for all workers exposed to asbestos to claim compensation for emotional distress, or "anxiety," caused by the fear of contracting a serious disease, even if claimants cannot demonstrate any actual physical harm. As a result of this decision, any worker who can demonstrate that his or her past exposure to asbestos may lead in the future to a serious medical condition may claim compensation from his or her current or former employer.

In its decision dated September 11, 2019, the French Supreme Court expanded the scope of this compensation to include all harmful or toxic substances. Therefore, an employee who demonstrates that he or she has: (i) been exposed in the workplace to a harmful or toxic substance generating a high risk of developing a serious disease; and (ii) developed anxiety resulting from such exposure, may seek compensation from his or her employer, provided that the employer did not implement certain minimum measures to ensure the employee's health and safety and the claim is made within a five-year statute of limitations.

While the September 11, 2019 decision applies to mine workers specifically, the broad wording of the French Supreme Court's decision leaves no doubt that compensation for "anxiety" should be considered open to all employees exposed to any...

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