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Hotel fined for guest slur at discrimination seminar

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 21 May 2010, 13:32

Published: 21 May 2010 13:32 GMT+02:00

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The court upheld a district court ruling in favour of the Discrimination Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsman - DO) who had taken up the woman's case, and ordered the hotel to pay 8,000 kronor ($1,000) in compensation plus interest and court costs.

The woman, whose is member of Sweden's Roma community, was attending the conference at the Elite Grand Hotel in Norrköping in eastern Sweden when she was repeatedly asked by staff as to why she was there.

According to court documents three different members of staff approached the woman and asked her whether she was a guest at the hotel. At one point she was informed that the coffee which she was helping herself to at the time was for the consumption of paying guests only.

The woman was in Norrköping to attend a conference addressing the subject of ethnic discrimination and she later reported the hotel to DO.

The hotel responded, in its defence, that it had previously had problems with Roma and thefts, an explanation the hotel later changed, arguing instead that staff are instructed to check the identity of all guests that they don't immediately recognise.

"It is almost impossible to imagine that hotel staff in practice approach every single guest that they do not immediately recognize," the court stated in response to the hotel's explanation.

Story continues below…

The court furthermore ruled that the Grand Hotel had not sufficiently been able to prove that the woman had not suffered insult or injury as a result of the discrimination and thus remained liable to pay the damages awarded by district court.

The Elite Grand Hotel Norrköping's general manager, Krister Eriksson, told The Local on Friday that he was unwilling to comment further on the case.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:06 May 21, 2010 by lil575
Good for her! How outrageous to be treated that way.
15:45 May 21, 2010 by peropaco
What a ridiculous fine. It should have been 200K to show the other hotels/commercial institutions this behaviour is not tolerated.
16:40 May 21, 2010 by Thompsuleme
agree totally with above comments. what a shame.
17:14 May 21, 2010 by Kevin Harris
The hotel has, in effect, been found guilty of racial profiling. They challenged this woman, more often than another woman, because of her race. In the security industry (a hotel is partly in the security industry), this is a common conundrum. Hotel staff should check up on who is wandering about the building from time to time, but mustn't check those who statistically are most likely to be up to no good. What's worse, the sensitivities of one particular soul or the protection of life and property? Is this hotel (and any other Swedish hotel) less secure now because staff will avoid challenging those most likely to take offence, but also most likely to cause harm? Probably. Is the protection of this woman's sensitivities worth the downgrading of hotel security in Sweden? Probably not. It's very much an emotional issue, but which hotel do you want to stay in? The safe one? Or the one that allows statistical security risks to wander about unchallenged for fear of causing offence?

Perhaps this woman will spend her 8 000 kronor lifting the unfairly poor reputation of Roma people so that hotel and shop staff don't see them as the security risk that they do now. I think it might cost significantly more than 8 000 SEK to do that though.
17:19 May 21, 2010 by Jes
Waht / who are Roma people ?
18:16 May 21, 2010 by Corvinus
Those people harassing you for money in the metro or wandering around anywhere a tourist can be found saying "Do you speak English?" (My favoured reply to that one being "Yes I do, now f**k off"). Often spotted with a baby/crutches/nervous tick/whatever else they can find to augment their begging ability.
18:32 May 21, 2010 by boby
What a stupid country is Sweden.
18:53 May 21, 2010 by amirhosein
just $1000?

That is no fine for the hotel.
19:11 May 21, 2010 by lil575
Kevin: this was not about security. The woman was participating in a conference. She was getting coffee. She was approached 3 times by staff members. No one should be treated that way.
21:29 May 21, 2010 by heroine
What a ridiculous fine ! It should have been 10 x at least.
21:39 May 21, 2010 by Rahelli
Body Sweden is not a stupid contery .Sweden is lovely contery I love Sweden
21:51 May 21, 2010 by voiceofreason
I live a neighborhood with Swedish Seniors, I get this look all the time. Someone even asked me if I was the delivery man when I ordered for new furniture.

I will never sue anyone for this, I will just amuse them because they are the ignorant ones. It is not worth my effort to sue anyone for a racial slur or whatever.
21:53 May 21, 2010 by sendia
@ Jes. Gypsy people are roma's .
22:31 May 21, 2010 by laura ka baal
Sweden is being exposed.
01:13 May 22, 2010 by telzey
Wouldn't it have been an easy matter for her to prove she was staying at the hotel? Just show some ID and have them check their own records. That she was asked three times shows their motives were other than as described.
06:25 May 22, 2010 by Decedo
When I first moved to Sweden, I was amazed on how much the Gypsys were generalized. I was at a garage in Göteborg and some gypsys were hanging around smoking and not doing anything, but the shop owner called the cops on them. I actually didn't know they were gypsys, the garage owner told me. When the cops got there, I didn't go and listen, but clearly they hassled them and they quickly left. So good on this lady for fighting it, but what's with the $1,000 fine??? Whats the deterrent for businesses in acting like this? If it was like this in North America, then the African Americans would still be at the back of the bus, or Canadian Native Indians still wouldn't be allowed to vote.
11:11 May 22, 2010 by zooeden
Ok yeah whatever, I can expect any kind of comment but I have not yet find a decent Roma; I can imagine the good old lady was wearing her typical costume in rags smelling like a wet carpet and wondering about. The hotel was probably not the four seasons so I can imagine the staff... Pay the money and stop writting this kind of news really!!!
09:30 May 23, 2010 by Tancred
The first justification by the Hotel was most honest and justifiable.

We know just how difficult it can be dealing with Roma Gypsies in the UK. Wherever they turn up crime spirals.

The hotel was entirely justified in keeping a close eye on her.

If Roma's do not like being profiled as criminals then they should give up their criminal ways.

17:56 May 23, 2010 by Flygger
The final outrageous insult was when she was made to put the coffee machine back after she had slipped it into her bag !!
21:32 May 23, 2010 by locaxy
@Tancred: "If Roma's do not like being profiled as criminals then they should give up their criminal ways."

That's a hasty generalization. In fact, you're justifying collective punishment, a crime against humanity.

A person is innocent until proven guilty. Racial profiling reverses that.
23:03 May 23, 2010 by Jamis
Romas are known all around the world for theiving, im not surprised she was asked on 3 occasions what she was doing there slurping the coffee, the fine is more than she would make in a year at home!!
12:49 May 24, 2010 by wabasha
so does this mean I can go to the Lamborgini dealership every day and ask to sit in the cars, but when they turn me away it becomes discrimination because I'm not rich?

now if she was turned away after saying she was a guest that would be bad, very bad. not sure this little issue would make it to court in other countries.
12:17 July 29, 2010 by LeoKinmann
So many racists on this board.
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