L'Oreal execs on trial for 'racist' hiring tactics

19th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 18, 2006 (AFP) - Three executives from the French cosmetics group L'Oréal and the temporary employment giant Adecco went on trial on Thursday in Paris, accused of applying racist hiring policies.

PARIS, May 18, 2006 (AFP) - Three executives from the French cosmetics group L'Oréal and the temporary employment giant Adecco went on trial on Thursday in Paris, accused of applying racist hiring policies.

The executives — who work for Garnier, one of L'Oréal's top brands, Adecco and its subsidiary Districom — are accused of using ethnic profiling to filter out non-white candidates for a Garnier promotional campaign in 2001.

They are charged, along with their employers, of "discrimination based on origin, nationality or ethnic background", in a case brought by the rights group SOS Racism.

According to the prosecution, a fax sent by Districom specified that Garnier wanted only "BBR" or 'Bleu-Blanc-Rouge' hostesses — meaning red, white and blue, the colours of the French flag — for its campaign.

The defendants deny the accusation, saying the "BBR" tag simply meant that candidates should have a good command of the French language.

France has stepped up its efforts to combat racism following last year's riots in high-immigration suburbs, and the number of complaints filed with the HALDE anti-discrimination body has jumped from 150 to 270 per month.

Anti-racism groups say discrimination is widespread in the French job market but that offenders are rarely made to face trial.

According to the vice-president of SOS Racism, Samuel Thomas, large French companies — and particularly recruitment specialists — commonly use a system of codes to refer to the ethnic profiles of candidates.

Among a number of cases being investigated, he said, one Paris recruitment firm was found to use a scale running from "PR1" for white candidates, to "PR4" for candidates of African origin.

"We want to dismantle the entire system underlying the discriminations," said Thomas, whose group pioneered the practice of undercover testing to expose racist offenders in France — from nightclubs to job agencies.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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