An employment court in France ruled that a hair salon manager is not guilty of homophobia after she called a gay employee using what is often considered a homophobic slur in a text message before firing him the following day.
A male employee in a Paris hair salon was working on a probationary basis when he did not show up for work one day because he was sick. His boss, a woman, accidentally sent him a text message about him that said: “I am not keeping [the employee] on, I’ll tell him tomorrow …I don’t like this guy, he’s a faggot, they’re all up to no good.”
After being let go, the man took his case to the Prud’hommes, the French court that handles disputes between employers and employees, arguing that he had been discriminated against because of his sexual orientation. He said he was deeply offended by what the salon boss said in the text message.
The manager of the salon said the man was fired for being “slow.” He had “trouble fitting in,” she said, and he refused to do certain tasks.
In a court ruling that sparked outrage among gay rights activists, the Paris court ruled that it was not out of line for the salon boss to call the man a faggot, because it is well known that a lot of gay people work at hair salons.
The court acknowledged the “inappropriate nature and context of the text message,” but said the actual term used by the salon boss – "pédé," (PD) short for the French term "pédéraste," was not homophobic because it “has entered into day-to-day language,” and no longer carried a pejorative meaning in the manager’s mind.
In the December 16 ruling, the tribunal remarked that when put into context, “the term 'PD' used by the manager cannot be construed as homophobic because it is known that hairdressing salons regularly employ homosexual people, notably in women's hairdressing salons, without encountering problems."
Despite ruling that the employee was not discriminated against, the court awarded him nearly $6,000 for moral prejudice, because “injurious words were used.”
The employee is expected to appeal the ruling.