European network of legal experts in the non-discrimination field
  • Go to Logo Human European Consultancy
  • Go to the Migration Policy Group


The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.  

Sophie Latraverse

Country context

France has traditionally been a centralised state. The first legislation implementing the directives, the Law of 16 November 2001, integrated the fight against discrimination as an objective in collective bargaining, branch (sub-sections of the labour force) negotiations and national negotiations. It has been completed by the creation of the French Equality Body, HALDE, with the law 2004-436, and the Law no 2008-496 of May 27, 2008 relating to the adaptation of National Law to Community Law in Matters of Discrimination adopted on May 15, 2008. 

Main principles and definitions

All codified texts prohibiting discrimination in national legislation state a list of prohibited grounds without defining them. Since the law prohibits taking the concept of origin or race into consideration, they are not defined and no application of the exception provided in Directive 2000/43 was enacted into French law.

Enforcing the law

In France, since the law is transversal for a great part of its protection, cases are referred to as precedents whether or not they discuss issues related to the same ground of discrimination. Procedural means of access to evidence remain difficult to enforce.

Main legislation

In private law, the legal regime relating to discrimination is to be found in statutes and codified law i.e. the Labour Code (LC), the Penal Code (PC) and the Civil Code (CC). Administrative law, on the other hand, is mostly jurisprudential and based on the implementation of a formal theory of equality.

Material scope

The law covers all grounds prohibited by Article 19 par.1 TFEU and a number of other grounds: origin, national origin- in some legislation- appearance of origin, race, sex, pregnancy, family situation, physical appearance, last name, health, disability, genetic characteristics, mores, sexual orientation, age, union activities, and religion, political and religious convictions (which are interpreted broadly to encompass all philosophical or mystical endeavours).

Equality bodies

On July 21st, 2008, Government has passed a Constitutional Law modernising the institutions that creates, at Article 41, a Defender of the Rights with extended powers. Its powers and jurisdiction have been precisely defined by the Organic Law no. 2011-333 of 29 March 2011 that came into force on 1st may 2011. It integrates the Médiateur de la République (French Ombudsman), the Defender of the rights of the Child, the Commission for the Deontology of Security, and finally the HALDE. It absorbs the jurisdiction over claims in all these areas as well as competence to propose legislative reform, to pursue actions for the promotion of rights and carry out research in all its spheres of competence. Its competence covers all grounds of discrimination, direct and indirect, prohibited by national laws and International Conventions duly ratified by France.

Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.