According to the French Labour Code, it is forbidden to punish or dismiss employees, or exclude potential employees from the recruitment process (for a job, a training position or an internship), or cause them to endure direct or indirect discriminatory measures with respect to remuneration, incentive schemes, share distribution, training or redeployment programs, posting, qualification, classification, career development, mobility or contract renewal, on the basis of their nationality, ethnic or racial origin, gender, sexual orientation, morals, name, age, marital status, religious beliefs, political opinions, trade union activities, physical appearance, medical condition and/or disability.
Protections Against Harassment
In France, harassment is prohibited by national law and takes the form of both sexual and moral harassment. Sexual and moral harassment are both punishable by two years of imprisonment and a fine of EUR 30,000 (three years of imprisonment and a fine of EUR 45,000, where sexual harassment is committed by a hierarchical superior). In France, where harassment is perpetrated by an employee, both the employer and the employee are liable.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
Under the current legislation, private companies and public offices with more than 20 employees must have workers with disabilities account for 6% of their total workforce. Employers are provided with three options to meet this target: (i) hiring disabled workers as employees, (ii) subcontracting workers from the sheltered sector, (iii) paying a contribution fee to AGEFIPH, which is an organisation dedicated to furthering professional inclusion of the disabled in the private sector.
Employers can initiate a non-judicial in-house inquiry if a victim of harassment brings to their attention, or if they suspect, an incident of discrimination, as they must guarantee a working environment free of such practices. Since 2004, a special body has been created that has an essential role in the fight against discrimination: the Defender of Rights. Any discrimination case, direct or indirect, prohibited by statute, law, or by an international convention to which France is a party, can be brought before the Defender of Rights. Its main task is to ensure the efficacy of the legal mechanisms prohibiting discrimination. Legal actions may also be brought before the Labour Court directly, by employees who allege discrimination.
French labour law does not recognise quotas, and the principle of non-discrimination bars employers from practicing affirmative action or instituting measures designed to favour diversity in the workplace.