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About Case Law

Case Law

Appeal Court of Versailles
02/04/2008
Legal provision Directive 2000/43/EC
Area Employment & training
Form of Discrimination Direct discrimination
Grounds of discrimination Discrimination on ground of racial or ethnic origin
Topic Discrimination by private parties, Employer's responsibility , Reversal of burden of proof
France , Discrimination on ground of racial or ethnic origin , Employment .
Key facts of the case:

Two formers employees of the car company Renault argued that their career advancement had been blocked or delayed because of they were black (African and Martinican).
The claimants’ individual assessment reports from Renault showed that they were good employees who were motivated and undertook training. However, other comparable non-black employees of the same staff level had enjoyed significantly greater career progression. to that of non-black employees of the same staff level.

Main reasoning/argumentation:

The court judged that the discrepancy between career progression of the two men as compared to their non-black colleagues was owed to their racial and ethnic origin. According to the court Renault had failed to provide evidence that the differential treatment was justified by objective elements, and did not constitute unlawful discrimination.

Key issues (concepts, interpretations)
clarified by the case:

This case is builds on a line of case-law relating to discrimination in employment, in particular the application of the reversal of the burden of proof.
At the end of the 1990s, French trade unions bringing claims alleging discrimination would use the concept of the reversal of the burden of proof as established in Community law. In particular they would use a comparison between the situation of a discriminated employee and other employees in a similar situation in order to create the presumption of discrimination. Even before the adoption of Directives 2000/43 and 2000/78 and their transposition into national law, the Social Chamber of the Final Court of Appeals gradually recognized the validity of this comparative approach, inspired by rules of Community law.
The case-law has progressively extended the reversal of the burden of proof to allegations of discrimination in general, beyond the sphere of employment law.

Results (sanctions) and key consequences
or implications of the case:

The Appeal Court of Versailles ordered the Renault company to pay two former employees 80.000 and 60.000 euros of damages and 8.000 euros for non-pecuniary damage for each one. The company said it was surprised and disappointed by the decision of the court. The company, whose former president, Louis Schweitzer, currently chairs the HALDE, stresses that it condemns racism and does not practice discrimination. The Court also turned down the claims of three other former employees and one current employee of the company.