French carmaker Renault convicted of racial discrimination
French court on Wednesday found carmaker Renault guilty of discriminating against two black employees who had argued that they were denied promotions because of their race.
PARIS, April 23, 2008 - A French court on Wednesday found carmaker
Renault guilty of discriminating against two black employees who had argued
that they were denied promotions because of their race.
The Versailles appeals tribunal outside Paris overturned a lower court
ruling in favour of Renault and ordered the carmaker to pay damages to Lucien
Breleur, born in Martinique, and Daniel Kotor, from Togo.
"The Renault company must repair the prejudice it caused to Mr Kotor and Mr
Breleur for blocking their career paths and maintaining their salaries at a
lower level than what they should have been," said the court in a ruling.
Breleur, who worked at Renault as an automobile electrician from 1971 to
2003, was awarded 80,000 euros (124,900 dollars) in damages and interest and
8,000 euros for moral harm.
Renault was ordered to pay Kotor, a labourer and administative clerk from
1983 to 2004, 60,000 euros in damages and interests and 8,000 euros for
causing moral harm.
"It is the first time that the courts, which are usually very reluctant to
rule in this area, recognise Renault guilty of racial discrimination," said
lawyer Florence Laussucq-Caston, who represented the two ex-employees.
Renault was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case of another worker and
three other ex-employees.
The six plaintiffs, of African and Arab origin, were seeking one million
euros in damages from Renault for discrimination.
The court found that Renault had not provided proof that the difference in
treatment accorded to Breleur and Kotor compared to other employees was based
on factors other than race.
"Renault had to prove that these two employees who had good performance
reviews, were motivated and good team players, were not hindered in their
career because of their origin," said Laussucq-Caston.
"In the absence of proof, Renault was implicitly found guilty of racial
discrimination," she said.
An assessment of the career paths of 10 Renault employees found that other
workers benefitted from more promotions and opportunities than Breleur and
Kotor, the court found.
An employee with the personnel office had testified that management had
used racial epithets to describe Kotor, calling him a "monkey" and "nigger".
A previous ruling in December 2005 found that the six employees had not
been victims of racial discrimination.