AN ENGLISH secretary who claims she was sacked for writing a blog about her day-to-day life in Paris is taking legal action against her former employer in a test case under French labour laws.
The blog, written under the pseudonym “La Petite Anglaise”, has built up a sizeable following over the past two years. Up to 3,000 people a day read her diary-style accounts of her work, relationships and the travails of single-motherhood in the French capital.
But in April, Catherine — she refuses to give her family name — was called in by her bosses at the Paris office of Dixon Wilson, the British accounting company, and was told that she was being dismissed for gross misconduct because of her blog. She was asked to collect her things and leave the office immediately, having just been “Dooced” — the slang for such a sacking, named after the assumed name of Heather Armstrong, an American web designer who was fired for writing about her work online.
“I was shocked,” Catherine, 33, told The Times yesterday. “It was a bolt out of the blue, I was not given any warning.”
Her blog postings began as “a bit of fun”, she said, after she read the diary written by Belle du Jour, a self-described call girl. Written in a light-hearted style, her blog has also drawn comparisons with the diary of Bridget Jones, Helen Fielding’s fictional office worker.
Catherine said that she never revealed her name and never identified her employer online. Her French former boyfriend is “Mr Frog”, while their three-year-old daughter is “Tadpole”.
But partners at Dixon Wilson claimed that she made herself and therefore the company identifiable by including photographs of herself. They also complained that she used office time to work on it.
After working out her notice, she posted news of her dismissal and pending legal case for the first time yesterday on her blog, www.petiteanglaise.com.
The case — one of the first of its kind in France — will be brought before a labour tribunal this year, and her lawyer is pressing for an award of two years’ salary, about £54,000.
Dixon Wilson declined to comment yesterday.
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