A fine of 50,000 euros: the global temporary employment giant Adecco was condemned in Paris for discrimination in hiring and racial registration, this Wednesday, March 13, more than 20 years after the facts. The Paris criminal court rendered its decision based on “a body of evidence” making it possible to establish “the existence of ethnic registration and discrimination” on the part of the temporary employment company. against some of its employees.

The Franco-Swiss group Adecco, as well as two of its executives, were sued by former employees and anti-racist associations for having set up a system of discrimination based on skin color, through the “PR 4” file, containing the names of predominantly black temporary workers.

The defendants, Olivier P. and Mathieu C., former directors of the Montparnasse temporary employment agency, were sentenced to a fine of 10,000 euros, of which 7,000 were suspended. The court recognized their involvement in this “filtering based on skin color” without having been at the origin, while having “not put anything in place to put an end to it”. Between 1997 and 2001, the agency that the two defendants managed in the Montparnasse district of Paris allegedly had some 500 black temporary workers, excluded from certain missions.

A judicial investigation was opened in 2001 in Paris after a complaint from the SOS Racisme association, which had been alerted by a former employee responsible for recruitment in the same agency. Specializing in catering, the agency worked in particular with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eurodisney and the Société des wagons-lits.

During the trial, the defendants argued that the “PR 4” criterion did not qualify skin color but “a mix of the candidate’s professional experience and interpersonal skills”, in particular their mastery of French. “I have never condoned or practiced discrimination, there is a huge paradox, I have spent my life fighting against discrimination,” Olivier P., now retired after 17 years, explained at the bar within Adecco. “Fancy” explanations, according to the prosecutor. “You have to want to believe it,” she said ironically.

The public prosecutor had requested a fine of 50,000 euros against the temp company, as well as a three-month suspended prison sentence for the two former agency directors.