In June 1793, almost four years after the storming of the Bastille, the Club des Cordeliers called for householders "to have painted on their house fronts, in large letters, these words: Unity, indivisibility of the Republic, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or death."
Whittled down to the more memorable "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité", the motto of the French Republic was born.
But as a piece in the International Herald Tribune highlights, there is precious little égalité or fraternité in France's workplaces if you happen to be a Muslim, disabled or aged over 50.
The IHT reports that a French employment agency answered 258 job ads for senior salespeople and managers by sending a total of 1,806 fictitious résumés.
The results revealed a startling degree of discrimination.
Almost 30 percent of white French men and 26 percent of white French women received positive responses. But when the résumés were changed to have Arab-sounding names, the positive response rate dropped to 5 percent.
Also facing strong discrimination were the handicapped, with 2 percent positive responses, and people over 50 years old, with 8 percent. The résumés had photos attached, as is French tradition, and white candidates with an ugly face also had a lower response rate, with 13 percent.