Nightclub ordered to pay for ethnic discrimination

The Svea Court of Appeal has ordered Elite Hotels to pay compensation to six men after finding that they were denied entry to a Stockholm nightclub due to their ethnicity.

The court has ordered Elite Hotels to pay 15,000 kronor ($2,000) to each of the six men who were refused entry to the Nasty nightclub and filed a complaint with the discrimination ombudsman (DO) alleging ethnic discrimination.

“That’s great. Of course this is positive. I wish that this was given more attention – I hadn’t heard about this ruling until you called, for example,” one of the men, Waqas Yousaf, said when The Local called on Tuesday.

The young men, whose appearance is described by the court as “foreign”, decided to act on their suspicions that they were systematically refused entry to bars and nightclubs in Stockholm due to their ethnicity.

On the night in question, April 3rd 2005, the men recruited some friends whose appearance is classified by the court as “Swedish” and divided themselves up into separate groups according to their ethnic appearance.

When the two groups – identical in age, gender and attire – approached the entrance of Nasty the group with a “Swedish” ethnic appearance was let in unhindered, while the group with a “foreign” ethnic appearance was refused.

The door staff at Nasty, which was then housed in the Elite Hotel Stockholm Plaza Hotel in central Stockholm but has since closed, told the group that the club was having an invitation-only Easter party, information that was not mentioned to the group with “Swedish” appearance.

The whole incident was recorded on film and the court ruled that the video evidence supported the men’s testimony.

The court has thus ruled that discrimination did occur and furthermore established that Elite Hotels was responsible for the door staff at the nightclub, thereby upholding DO’s appeal of a district court ruling dismissing the case on the grounds that Elite Hotels could not be held liable for the actions of Nasty AB’s staff.

Elite Hotel’s explanation that the door staff’s comments were just part of the standard nightclub practice of “white lies” told to maintain the right age group of clientèle at the club was ruled by the court to be insufficient to prove that discrimination had not occurred.

The court has ruled that Elite Hotels pay the sum of 15,000 kronor to each of the men plus interest, and that each party should pay their own court costs.

The Local asked Waqas Yousaf if he felt anything had changed in Stockholm in the years between the incident and Tuesday’s ruling.

“I am in another situation now, so it has changed for me – I don’t go out as often as I did then,” he said.

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