In Belgium, conviction of Adecco

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Dimanche, 29 Septembre, 2013

On May 31st, 2011 in Brussels, the ADECCO company was convicted of using racial discrimination in their recruitment policy. The company was fined € 25,000 in damages to SOS Racisme and a symbolic sum of €1 to the Belgian labour union FGTB.

The discrimination case was first revealed in late 2008 in Pote à Pote which exposed the use by Belgium ADECCO of the BBB codes (Blanc, Bleu, Belge)1 and we had kept you informed of its judicial developments. In June 2009, the day of the trial, the penal procedure was declared null and voiddue to the use of French rather than Flemish by the examining magistrate during the eight year investigation. We had then decided to turn to a civil lawsuit along with the FGTB and Kif Kif, the Flemish anti-racism movement. In civil law, ADECCO pretended that such condemnable behaviour was due to a handful of recruitment personnel members but we demonstrated that it was rather an organized discrimination system complete with the use of the BBB codes totally supported by the #1 temp employment agency management.

According to Bernard MAINGAIN, SOS racisme lawyer, This judgment against ADECCO before a Belgian court is a great victory for the European anti-racism movement for several reasons. First, this is the first time an anti-racist organization has obtained such an amount in damages from a company for discrimination. Second, this is the first time an anti-racist organization has been accepted as a plaintiff in a civil case in a different EU member country.

The Center for Equal Opportunity and Fight against Racism (Centre pour lEgalité des Chances et la Lutte contre le Racisme) which had done its best to prevent me from getting the Belgian High Authority against Discrimination involved in the lawsuit again finally apologized for having chosen an audit of ADECCO rather than filing a lawsuit against them.

Several lessons can be learned from this ten-year battle : fighting against discrimination systems first requires determination and resistance. And then, going against profitable discrimination systems entails obtaining, as is the case in the USA, seriously publicized verdicts. A list of about a hundred client companies of Brussels ADECCO which used BBB recruitments was published in the wake of this court sanction on the Belgian Labour Party website. While these were not sued, they were nonetheless given bad publicity ten years after the facts.


Translated by Aude DiPaolantonio

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