Year: 2011 (Date of Decision: 6 December, 2011)

Forum, CountryIndustrial/Labour Court; France

Standards, RightsNon-discrimination and equal protection of the law; Proportionality; Right to decent work

Summary BackgroundIssue at stake in this case: the lawfulness of the dismissal of the plaintiff, a representative of a trade union who, as part of her responsibilities within the company board, denounced to the police and the labour inspectorate in 2005 gaps in safety conditions at her work place. Since then, and although she had been under permanent contract for four years, she had been facing threats of dismissal and disciplinary measures against her. The labour inspectorate and several administrative and judicial bodies had questioned and sought to prevent the dismissal of Ms Lopez.

Holding: The judge found a violation of several articles of the Labour Code (Code du Travail), especially [expand title=article L 1132-1]Aucune personne ne peut être écartée d’une procédure de recrutement ou de l’accès à un stage ou à une période de formation en entreprise, aucun salarié ne peut être sanctionné, licencié ou faire l’objet d’une mesure discriminatoire, directe ou indirecte, telle que définie à l’article 1er de la loi n° 2008-496 du 27 mai 2008 portant diverses dispositions d’adaptation au droit communautaire dans le domaine de la lutte contre les discriminations, notamment en matière de rémunération, au sens de l’article L. 3221-3, de mesures d’intéressement ou de distribution d’actions, de formation, de reclassement, d’affectation, de qualification, de classification, de promotion professionnelle, de mutation ou de renouvellement de contrat en raison de son origine, de son sexe, de ses moeurs, de son orientation sexuelle, de son âge, de sa situation de famille ou de sa grossesse, de ses caractéristiques génétiques, de son appartenance ou de sa non-appartenance, vraie ou supposée, à une ethnie, une nation ou une race, de ses opinions politiques, de ses activités syndicales ou mutualistes, de ses convictions religieuses, de son apparence physique, de son nom de famille ou en raison de son état de santé ou de son handicap.[/expand] prohibiting any discrimination including on the ground of union activities or membership [p. 5]. In particular, the judge found a clear causality link between the steps taken by Ms Lopez to ensure safe and fair conditions of work within her company and the attacks against her, based on the chronology of events, and the fact that no complaint had been made previously about the employee [p. 6]. He also reviewed the reasons put forward by the employer to explain the disciplinary measures and considered the latter has failed to provide objective elements and thus these reasons were disproportionate and insufficient to justify a dismissal [p. 6].

Additional Comments: While he did not decide in favour of the plaintiff in respect of her allegation of psychological harassment, on the grounds of insufficiency of evidence, the judge did order the maintenance of the plaintiff in her job and her reinstatement in the responsibilities of 2004, before the conflict with her employer. He further awarded Ms Lopez damages of 40,000€ to compensate the five years of discrimination on the ground of union activities and of facing disciplinary measures against which she had to defend herself.

Link to Full Case: For contact details of the Conseil de Prud’hommes de Bobigny, please visit:

Copy of the decision on file with ICJ

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