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Taking Trade Union Discrimination to Court : A Sociology of Support and Resources for Legal Action

Vincent-Arnaud Chappe

Centre Maurice Halbwachs (CNRS-EHESS-ENS), 48, boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris, France

Available online 16 September 2014 on Science direct
doi : 10.1016/j.soctra.2014.08.001

This article examines the rise in the number of court cases related to discrimination against trade union workers in France since the late 1990s. It identifies the sources of support for victims of discrimination that allow them to file complaints in court. The judicialization of union-related cases of discrimination has been made possible by a new discourse linking the recognition of individual merit to the common cause of re-unionizing. Developing a special method of bringing evidence and the specialization of certain union actors and lawyers have helped make legal action against discrimination routine. But the historical roots of this strategy leave the question open as to how it can be applied to workers in secondary labor markets, particularly precarious workers.

Keywords : Discrimination ; Trade-Unions ; Judicialization ; Justice ; Equality ; Strategy ; Evidence.

Article Outline

  • 1. The origins of the right to non-discrimination : protecting trade-union liberties
    • 1.1. The genesis of a status “exorbitant” under common law
    • 1.2. Non-discrimination in the name of trade-union liberties
    • 1.3. Wage discrimination as a normal situation
  • 2. From martyrdom to filing a complaint : the union claim to a “normal” career
    • 2.1. The Peugeot-Sochaux “affair” : the matrix of a new claim
    • 2.2. A new, meritocratic demand
  • 3. Trying discrimination in the courts : routine as a support and its limits
    • 3.1. The conditions for judicialization to become routine
    • 3.2. A strategy adapted to out-dated labor organizations ?
    • 3.3. Beyond union discrimination ?
  • 4. Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments
  • References

Sociologie du travail
Volume 56, Supplement 1, November 2014
Translated by Gabrielle Varro