LABOR RIGHTS Airline did commit discriminatory “differential treatment”
Air France plane, here on the tarmac at Toulouse Blagnac airport . — FRED SCHEIBER/20 MINUTES
Air France did indeed discriminate by prohibiting one of his stewards the wearing of Afro braids, a hairstyle also authorized for air hostesses, estimated that the Court of Cassation. “The requirements for the exercise of the profession of steward do not justify prohibiting” such a hairstyle and, by authorizing it for women but not for men, the airline has indeed committed “different treatment” discriminatory, ruled the highest French court in a decision rendered this Wednesday.
Hired in 1998 by Air France, the steward had been wearing “African braids tied in a bun” since 2005. The company then refused him boarding “on the grounds that such a hairstyle was not authorized by the manual (…) for male cabin crew” The employee carried a wig for several years to be able to perform his duties, before seizing the prud’hommes in 2012 for discrimination. Air France has updated it. foot a few months later for “presenting not in compliance with the rules of wearing a uniform”. The steward was then declared “definitely unfit” in 2016 due to depression recognized as an occupational disease, then dismissed in 2018, having refused reclassification as ground staff.
“Hair style is neither part of the uniform nor an extension of it”
After a refusal to the prud’hommes, the Paris Court of Appeal had to in turn rejected, in November 2019, his claims for damages for discrimination, moral harassment and disloyalty, back pay and nullity; of his dismissal. To remove discrimination against gender, the Court of Appeal cited an “acceptable difference in appearance (…) between men and women in terms of dress, hairstyle, footwear and make-up” and felt that such a difference “which takes up the codes in use cannot be qualified as discrimination”.
But the Court of Cassation recalls that the labor code n’ authorizes differences in treatment between employees only if they meet “ genuine and determining occupational requirements, which is not the case in this case. In particular, she emphasizes that “the way of doing one's hair is neither a part of the uniform nor its extension” and that “social codes” invoked by the Court of Appeal “are not objective criteria which justify a difference in treatment between men and women”.