L'Oreal was found guilty this week of racial discrimination in hiring by France's highest court this week in a suit brought by SOS Racisme, a French anti-racism group. The suit claimed that L'Oreal employees were told to look for "BBR" women for a shampoo campaign - "BBR" stands for "bleu, blanc, rouge," the colors of the French flag, reported rediff.com. BBR is also a common euphemism used to describe white French people of white French descent.
The memo in question also requested that female representatives be 18-22 years old and sizes 38-42 (American sizes 6-10). While 38.7% of the applicants for the positions were members of minority groups, only 4.65% of those hired were minorities. Employees of the Adecco subsidiary Districom, who were in charge of hiring, testified that they were also given oral instructions to favor white candidates.
La Cour de Cassation, France's highest court, has charged both L'Oreal and Adecco with racial discrimination. Both companies have been fined 30,000 Euro by the Paris Appeals Court. Each company is required to pay an additional 30,000 Euro to SOS Racisme, according to the Times Online.
L'Oreal faced criticism last year when it was accused of lightening Beyonce Knowles's skin for an ad campaign. "We highly value our relationship with Ms. Knowles," said L'Oreal in a statement to the Associated Press. "It is categorically untrue that L'Oreal Paris altered Ms. Knowles's features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair color."
Media Resources: The London Times 6/25/09; Rediff.com 6/25/09; Washington Post 8/9/08