French activists pretend to be employers to denounce racism | Economic news


PARIS (AP) — French anti-racism activists who phoned temp agencies posing as a construction company that only wanted to hire “European” workers said more than a third of companies had agreed to assist in discriminatory research.

SOS Racisme, the national association of anti-discrimination groups, released audio recordings on Friday of some of the calls made in May to 69 temporary work agencies in the Ile-de-France region.

During the calls, the activists pretended to work for a fictitious construction company looking for workers for a building site. They explained that they were only looking for workers with “European profiles”, not suggesting people of color.

“If there is absolutely no record of this type of exchange, we can do the necessary,” said a woman who answered one of the calls, according to the recordings.

An employee from another agency was recorded saying, “I’m making myself a note so I can offer you the profiles you want.”

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“But I can’t say it will be that color or that community. It’s too complicated,” she added.

Discrimination based on color, sex, nationality, sexual orientation or religious beliefs is illegal in France.

SOS Racisme said the 69 offices it called were all affiliated with France’s leading temp firms, with billions of euros (dollars) in combined revenue.

He said 55% of branches contacted had denied the discrimination claims.

But 39% of those called agreed to weed out people on racial grounds, the campaign group said.

The remaining 6% also declined to racially select applicants but suggested the fictitious company do so itself, SOS Racisme said.

Although limited to a small number of agencies, the results highlight what anti-racism activists see as a broader problem of discrimination in some French workplaces.

Previous research has shown discrimination against job seekers from neighborhoods with an immigrant population or whose names are not traditionally French.

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