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Case Law

Tribunal Correctionnel de Nantes [Nantes First Instance Criminal Court]
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
Recruitment , France , Discrimination on ground of racial or ethnic origin , legal finding, court decision .
Key facts of the case:

A French young woman of Haitian origin was looking for a job in a hairdresser's shop. She contacted the manager of the shop in Chateaubriand who said that she was not looking for an employee. But the day after, the National Agency For Employment (ANPE) contacted the young woman and presented her an employment offer of the same hairdresser's shop. The woman re-contacted the manager, who still declared that she was not looking for an employee. The young woman made her case by using the situation testing method: the same day, the manager accepted the CV of a 'white' French woman even though she was less qualified for the job.

The manager of the hairdresser's shop was sentenced to a fine of EUR 3,000 and was ordered to pay additional moral damages to the victim (EUR 1,500).

Main reasoning/argumentation:

An investigation by a Labour Inspector showed that the manager of the hairdresser's shop refused to employ 'coloured' people (she said, 'I feel better with white employees because it better suits my customers. I feel better with people who have the same colour as me').
The court found that illegal discrimination leading to a racist management of the staff had been established.

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

This case clarifies the concept of racial discrimination in employment: the manager was not condemned because she had shown a racist attitude, but because she refused to hire a qualified woman because of her skin colour, whereas she was ready to employ a non-qualified 'white' woman.

Results and most important consequences, implications of the case:

The young woman had turned to the High Authority against Discrimination and for Equality (HALDE) in December 2005. The High Authority required the intervention of the Labour Inspectorate, and an investigation was opened. An offence report was then addressed to the prosecutor of the Republic. This case is very symbolic since it was the first time that several public institutions (the HALDE, the Labour Inspectorate and the Director of Public Prosecution) worked in a joint action. It was also the first judgment in a case where the HALDE referred a case to a court in order to support the plaintiff. The joint action enabled the rapid conclusion of the case and its success. It will probably encourage people who are victims of discrimination to approach the HALDE.