One employee of spirit giant Pernod Ricard alleges she started to hallucinate from alcohol intake at work

By Mary Honkus
November 19, 2019 08:45 PM
Jameson whiskey
Credit: Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty

Employees at the French offices of wine and spirit giant Pernod Ricard, owner of Absolut Vodka and Malibu Rum among a number of other popular liquor brands, claim they were consistently pressured to drink while on the clock. The company continues to deny the accusations.

Pernod Ricard allegedly encouraged a major drinking culture with the sales staff, one of the employees told Le Parisien. “It’s the company’s culture: if you say no, you’re not very well regarded,” she said. The incessant drinking caused her to experience hallucinations and hear voices, she added.

Other current and previous staff members have come forward to claim that they also became sick from the alcohol consumption. Workers say they were mainly drinking Richard Pastis — an anise flavored liquor that is typically mixed with water and served as an aperitif — sometimes as much as 12 glasses a day.

One former employee said he would drive home drunk as a result, and said he found colleagues in “alcoholic comas.” When employees complained, the issues were allegedly brushed off. “People would say, ‘What are you complaining about? You’re being paid to party,’ ” a staff member told Le Parisien.

Recently, a former salesman at the company filed a complaint against Pernod Ricard in the French labor court stating he suffered extreme “burn-out” from consuming alcohol at work and work related events.

A spokesperson for the company denied all accusations to The Guardian. “There is no culture of alcohol, no order, no incitement in any form.” The company’s head of communications, Bruno Gomier, also added that staff could decide how much — or how little — they wanted to drink.

This isn’t the first time the company has come under fire for the same reason. In 2011, former salesman Franck Daniel told The Telegraph that Pernod Ricard had an attitude of “the more you drink, the more you sell.” The outlet reported that other employees came forward and explained how they they were put through a sort of “crash test” in drinking to see how they handled their alcohol before actually being hired.

The issue has gone all the way to French court with a ruling expected later this month. Pernod Ricard did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.