"Because you're worth it" is L'Oreal's brand slogan — but in France, a few bad apples seemed to think only white Garnier hostesses were worth hawking their shampoo to customers.
An executive from Garnier, L'Oreal's beauty division, sent out a fax in 2000 instructing headquarters to find an all-white team of sales staff to promote Fructis Style. The code term? Find Garnier hostesses, the fax instructed, who are "bleu, blanc, rouge" (blue, white, red), the colors on the French flag and code in business recruitment circles, apparently, for white French people born to white French parents. This directive would have ruled out black, Asian, or Arab representatives, in effect excluding around four million ethnic minorities and people of color that make up France.
France's equivalent of the US Supreme Court, La Cour de Cassation, said that the policy was illegal under French employment law. Although the employee who sent out the fax denies discriminatory intent, claiming that she just wanted hostesses who could "express themselves correctly in French," employees claimed that they were given verbal instructions to favor white sales staff.