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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK
Garnier, Adecco fined for racism
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A former director of Garnier was acquitted by the court
The French cosmetics company, Garnier, and Swiss employment agency Adecco have been found guilty of carrying out a racist recruitment campaign in 2000.

A French appeals court overturned an earlier acquittal and ruled both companies had colluded to find only white women to sell make-up in Paris.

They were fined 30,000 euros ($40,865) and a former Adecco employee was given a three-month suspended jail sentence.

Garnier's parent company, L'Oreal, said it was not racist and would appeal.

Adecco, the world's biggest employment agency, said it was astonished by the ruling and was considering an appeal.

'Coded instructions'

The Paris Appeal Court found that Adecco had complied with what prosecutors said were coded instructions from Garnier to find only young, white women for its counters in the capital.

The court was shown a Garnier memo requesting "BBR" women - an acronym for "bleu-blanc-rouge" or "blue-white-red", the colours of the French flag in French.

Prosecutors said the term was a racist code for excluding black, Arab or Asian women.

The term is also used in the literature of the far-right National Front party in France.

After finding them guilty, the court fined Garnier, Adecco and one its subsidiary's, Ajilon, 30,000 euros, as well as 10,000 euros ($13,600) of legal costs, to the pressure group SOS Racisme.

Therese Coulange, a former Adecco employee, was given a three-month suspended prison sentence.

However, the former Garnier director, Laurent Dubois, and another Adecco employee were acquitted.

The ruling was the first time in France that blue-chip companies have been convicted of racial discrimination in hiring.

The charges had originally been dismissed by a civil court in June 2006 on the grounds that there was sufficient doubt about their guilt.

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