An anti-racism lobby group has pursued legal action against the French theme park for an ad published a decade ago
The Euro Disney Group, the parent company which runs the popular Disneyland Paris theme park in the French capital, went on trial yesterday in a legal dispute concerning a job application post published a decade ago. The prosecution in the case is claiming Disneyland Paris racially discriminated applicants for various roles in the park.
In the courthouse of Meaux, not far from Paris, anti-racism groups gathered in court to hear their complaints go before a judge. The issue relates to a request that candidates applying for the role have “European citizenship” if wishing to work as a dancer, bungee acrobat, juggler, flag launcher, puppeteer, or stilt walker, with the anti-racism groups saying this qualifies as ethnic profiling.
For its part, Euro Disney said it acknowledged that the advert, published in 2006, was poorly worded, but refuted claims that it had been a deliberate ploy to discriminate against any candidates of African origins from seeking employment. The company described the job post as an “isolated blunder,” adding “no other ad with this unlawful detail has been published.”
Euro Disney also countered SOS-Racisme’s claims by saying the group’s motivations in pursuing the case for a decade were largely due to the Disney franchise being a “good target for the media.”
If found guilty of hiring discrimination, the European office of the global Walt Disney brand could face a fine of €225,000.
The organisation SOS-Racisme, which first filed the complaint against Euro Disney, said that the House of Mouse had introduced an illegal requirement for European citizenship in its advert, with the intention of excluding “applicants originating from North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Turkey.”
“The legal process is still meaningful, even 10 years after the facts at issue, because Euro Disney has a double standard with, on one hand, claims of ethnic diversity among its staff and, on the other hand, an actual practice of hiring discrimination,” said Catherine Bahuchet, the lawyer representing SOS-Racisme.
Documents filed by Disney with the court shows that in the seasonal roster that was filled by applicants to the offending advert, 120 positions were available – with only 20 of them actually filled, three of which were awarded to candidates from outside the European Union (one American, one Swiss, and one Brazilian.)
Disneyland Paris caters for nearly 15m visitors annually, with a staff made up of 15,000 people from 100 nationalities, speaking 20 languages.