L'Oréal isn't looking so good this week. The French cosmetics behemoth, which owns brands such as Maybelline, Shu Uemura, Kiehl's, Lancome, and Garnier, was found guilty of racial discrimination by La Cour de Cassation, the French equivalent of the Supreme Court. Court documents show that Garnier sales staff should be "bleu, blanc, rouge" — which describes the colors of the French flag but is coded shorthand for white French people. The London Times reports:
Prosecutors said that Garnier wanted to exclude members of the ethnic minorities on the ground that they would be less likely to sell its shampoo in French shops. The court was told that only 4.65 percent of the hostesses hired for Garnier’s campaign were black, Asian, or Arab. Before the BBR fax went out, the agency had been offering a pool of candidates in which 38.7 percent were from ethnic minorities, suggesting that they had been blocked during the final stages of recruitment.
The court's decision upholds a 2007 decision that also found L'Oréal guilty of discrimination. This isn't the first time the company has come under fire with regard to race; less than a year ago, there was controversy about whether Beyoncé's skin was retouched to be lighter. One thing's for sure: as much as L'Oréal would like people to focus on its centennial this year, this story is likely to get more traction. Photo by Foxtongue