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Pole loses discrimination fight against Swedish zoo

Published: 21 Jan 2013 11:39 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Jan 2013 11:39 GMT+01:00

A Polish employee who took a Swedish zoo to court for discrimination has lost his case as the district court ruled on Monday that he had reported the alleged crimes too late.

Marcin Wilk, 26, claimed that Polish and Bulgarian employees at the zoo on Öland island received lower wages and were ill-treated during his stint there in 2011.

He claimed that the zoo was run like an "old-fashioned feudal system," with a strict top-down structure.

In a recording of his dismissal, played up in court in December 2012, a manager is heard screaming at Wilk:

"You think you're better than others. Take your things and go to hell. You're behaving like a damn monkey."

Wilk claimed that he and other Poles worked 10-hour days without a weekend or time off while the zoo's Swedish staff worked a regular 40-hour week.

While Swedes were paid 14,000 kronor ($2,160) per month, the Polish workers got 6,800 kronor plus room and board, he said.

"I was discriminated on the basis of my nationality. But everyone who works with discrimination issues knows that it is hard to prove. Discrimination is hidden," Wilk told the Barometern newspaper.

Wilk was asking for 1 million kronor in damages, but now that the district court has ruled that the alleged crimes had passed the statute of limitation, he will be obliged to pay the zoo's legal bills.

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Your comments about this article

14:27 January 21, 2013 by EP
Too late??? It happened in 2011 and he submitted it in 2012? That's hardly late and perhaps it wasn't his fault, since things move at a snail's pace anyway in Sweden. Wonder if he forgot to take a number to queue up at first ....
15:16 January 21, 2013 by newsjerseyballs
I worked with a bunch of these Polish fellas back at the chemical plant in Hoboken. They didn't work for nothing. Lazy bums. Finally one day the boss takes one of them in the coffee break and gives him a good whipping right there in front of the rest of them. Never seen nothing like it. They were all illegal so what could they do. Nothin. Next thng you know the rest of them are working there balls off. So I don't blame the super at the zoo. Sometimes you gotta give these guys a good kick in the butt or a good yelling at to get them workin.
16:22 January 21, 2013 by EP
@newjesreyballs ...

You sure these weren't lazy Swedes having a fika at your plant in Hoboken?
18:29 January 21, 2013 by k2kats
EP: I share your skepticism. If the only issue was statute of limitations, why didn't anyone alert this poor fellow when he went to court?

newjesreyballs: Suggest exercising a bit of caution when slinging about stereotypes, especially if you don't want them thrown back at you.
20:10 January 21, 2013 by mafketis
"You're behaving like a damn monkey"

Too bad he lost, did they at least toss him some peanuts in consolation?
20:17 January 21, 2013 by Reason and Realism
6,800 plus room and board (the latter two items being implicitly tax free) can in some cases be considered equal or superior compensation to 14,000 SEK gross salary, so the question then is whether the weekend work can be deemed excessive or not.

Given the fact that the recording of the dimissal exists, I am tempted to believe that this recording may have been arranged by the one who was dismissed, and who may have behaved on the day of dismissial in a way to illicit exceptional anger on the part of the manager doing the dimissing. One would do this if one was planning to blackmail the zoo for a million kronor, for example.

Agree that he should have been informed that his complaint was too late, but is is not impossible that the judge pulled out this 'complaint-was-too-late' technicality if he/she suspected that this was a blackmail attempt, and the judge felt he/she could do nothing else to protect the zoo from that blackmail.
11:56 January 22, 2013 by Frobobbles
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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