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Moulin Rouge loses race case

The Guardian, October 18, 2003

The Moulin Rouge in Paris lost its appeal yesterday against a 10,000 (7,000) fine for racial discrimination after refusing to employ a Senegalese man in a job that wasn't in the kitchen.

Abdoulaye Marega said he had applied through a job agency for a waiting job in the cabaret's restaurant but was turned down.

Prosecutors said that when the agency asked for reasons for the decision the manager, Micheline Beuzit, said that "the Moulin Rouge doesn't take blacks in the theatre, only in the kitchen".

The French anti-racism group SOS-Racisme took up Mr Marega's cause and sent another black man to apply for the job. Ms Beuzit, unaware a labour official was present, gave him the same answer.

Mr Marega was awarded 4,500, and SOS Racisme received 2,300. In its ruling, the appeals court halved a fine against Ms Beuzit to 1,500.

An investigation by state prosecutors found that the Moulin Rouge, whose scantily clad can-can dancers are a huge tourist draw, had not hired a non-white as a performer or waiter for 40 years, though many are employed as kitchen staff.

The club's staff manager told the court in November that since the case had opened, the Moulin Rouge had taken on two non-white people. They work in its auditorium.

Nestled in Paris's seedy Pigalle district, the Moulin Rouge had its 19th-century heyday as a bawdy vaudeville and nightclub, depicted most recently in a film musical of the same name starring Nicole Kidman.

The club has grown tamer with age and now draws coachloads of foreign tourists and groups of well-dressed executives for its dinner and dance shows.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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