“It’s five to six cases a year, barely,” Ms. Elbaz said, adding that often the victims are poor, working, and reluctant to spend months or years, and thousands of euros in lawyer fees, on an uncertain outcome.
Mr. Toubon, the human rights ombudsman, noted in his report that among those who had reported personal cases of job discrimination to his office, only 12 percent had taken legal action.
Victims do not always have hard proof of the mistreatment, the report noted, and many of them are reluctant to disrupt their professional lives by taking their employer to court.
In labor courts — like the one handling Mr. Amghar’s case — there are precedents in his favor. But cases often drag on, Ms. Elbaz said, as the judges are not professional magistrates and aren’t always well versed in anti-discrimination law.
Still, Mr. Amghar said it was important for him to file the suit. He recalled his father’s account of racism suffered in Algeria and then in France as a carpentry worker, and he remembered his parents’ faith that French meritocracy would give their children a different experience.
“If people like me, who did what was necessary to get good jobs, to get training, to live as citizens, are besmirched and denied our rights, where are we going?” Mr. Amghar said animatedly.
“I only have one name, I only have one nationality,” he added. “My name is Mohamed, and I am French.”