Paris, July 18: An English secretary is bringing a test case under French labour law after allegedly being sacked for bringing her employers into disrepute by writing a Bridget Jones in Paris blog describing her everyday life.
Up to 3,000 people a day read the online musings on work and love by Catherine, alias La Petite Anglaise.
Using the pseudonym La Petite Anglaise, she has attracted a sizeable international following for her musings on love, work and single motherhood in her Internet diary.
Her blog postings do not reveal her own name, nor that of her French former boyfriend, the father of her three-year-old daughter, and have never identified her employers.
But partners at the leading British accountancy firm Dixon Wilson alleged that she made herself and therefore the firm identifiable by including her own photograph on the weblog. They also complained that she used office time to work on it.
The secretary ' who asked to be identified only by her Christian name, Catherine, to protect her child’s privacy ' began the blog “as a bit of fun” two years ago.
She occasionally mentions sexual encounters but without explicit details. “I have sometimes played up the Bridget Jones thing, in that I am not afraid of making fun of myself, but I don’t see myself as in the least scatterbrained,” she said.
References to work have included descriptions of a quintessentially English office atmosphere with a framed portrait of the Queen on the wall and “Cadbury’s chocolate, Tetley tea, beers after work”.
There is one embellished account of accidentally showing her cleavage while helping to set up a video conference meeting.
The senior partner is described as “very old school”, a man who “wears braces and sock suspenders, stays in gentlemen’s clubs when in London and calls secretaries typists. When I speak to him, I can’t prevent myself from mirroring his plummy Oxbridge accent.”
Catherine said: “They are intended as humorous anecdotes, nothing more.”
But she claims she was made to feel “like a naughty schoolgirl called up before the head” when suddenly summoned to the office of the senior partner at the firm’s Paris premises.
She was told she was being suspended pending dismissal. “The phrase used, ‘gross misconduct’, usually means you’ve done something terrible like you embezzle money from your firm,” said Catherine, 33, a French and German graduate who grew up in Yorkshire.
The Dixon Wilson partner for whom Catherine worked said the firm was unlikely to feel able to comment.