French activists pose as employers to denounce racism

PARIS (AP) – French anti-racism activists who called temporary employment agencies posing as a construction company that wanted to hire only “European” workers say more than a third of companies have agreed to help with discriminatory research.

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

During the calls, activists pretended to work for a fictitious construction company looking for manual workers for a construction 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 what is necessary,” said a woman who answered one of the calls, according to the records.

An employee of another agency was recorded saying, “I’m taking a note for myself so that I can offer you the profiles you want.

“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 bureaus it called were all subsidiaries of France’s major temp companies, with billions of euros (dollars) in combined revenue.

He said 55% of branches contacted refused discrimination claims.

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

The remaining 6% also refused to select candidates racially, but suggested the fictitious company do it itself, SOS Racisme said.

Although limited to a small number of agencies, the findings highlight what anti-racist activists say is a broader issue 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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