France Telecom was placed under investigation Friday for suicides at the company after its former boss and number two were probed for workplace harassment, its lawyer said.
"The company finally has the right to defend itself two years after the launch of the investigation," Claudia Chemarin told AFP.
"France Telecom contests being put under a system that was destined to create suffering for employees," she said, referring to company claims it was forced to restructure to respond to a rapidly changing market and cut jobs.
Europe's biggest Internet provider and its third mobile operator, trading internationally as Orange, France Telecom underwent major restructuring to confront growing competition after it was privatised.
Its former boss Didier Lombard and ex-number two Louis-Pierre Wenes were placed under investigation on Wednesday and Thursday for workplace harassment.
Lombard stepped down in March 2010 after 35 suicides among employees between 2008 and 2009.
During his time in charge, Lombard oversaw a huge reorganisation that involved the loss of 22,000 jobs between 2006 and 2008. In addition, more than 10,000 employees were switched to other jobs.
Although the suicide rate at France Telecom is lower than the French average, many of the employees had left notes blaming management decisions or stress at work.
Lombard has said the restructuring programme, vital to remain competitive in a changing market, was not responsible for the suicides.
A 2010 report by work inspectors highlighted what it said was management harassment of the white-collar staff in particular, many of whom had been sidelined, urged to accept a career change or to leave the company.
France Telecom's management methods had effectively undermined staff psychologically "undermining their physical and mental health", the report said.
France Telecom is one of the biggest French companies, employing 105,000 people in France and 171,000 worldwide.