Swedish firefighter wins affirmative action suit
David Landes · 10 Nov 2011, 10:50
Published: 10 Nov 2011 10:50 GMT+01:00
“This is literally speaking a 100 percent victory,” Clarence Crafoord, head of the Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa), in a statement.
Crafoord represented firefighter Simon Wallmark in his case against the Södertörns Brandförsvarsförbund (SBFF), a fire department responsible for a number of Stockholm's southern suburbs.
Wallmar sued the fire department in July 2011 after being denied a position as a summer trainee, despite having the required vocational training as well as previous work experience.
He was told that he “wasn't qualified” because the jobs were “reserved for women and people with foreign backgrounds”.
Out of the 32 people finally hired by the fire department, ten lacked the relevant education for the job.
At the time, the fire department defended its decision not to hire Wallmark by arguing it was making a conscious effort to recruit women and minorities.
But after several hours of pre-trial negotiations overseen by a judge at the Södertörn District Court on Wednesday, the fire department decided to settle the case for the full 100,000 kronor demanded by Wallmark.
“This is an important signal that it's illegal to give people special treatment due to their gender or ethnic background,” said Crafoord.
In a statement issued following the settlement, the fire department explained that settling the case, rather than pursuing a court hearing scheduled for May 2012, was in the best interests of the department.
“It's important for Södertörns Brandförsvarsförbund to put this matter behind us before the next recruitment period, which is set to start soon,” the department said.
However, it added that it would continue its efforts to “increase diversity and equality” in order to “better reflect society”.
The fire department also maintained that the skills and competence of the candidates hired fit with the requirments of the job.