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Statoil in Sweden sued for Roma discrimination

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Statoil in Sweden sued for Roma discrimination
12:00 CET+01:00
Sweden's Equality Ombudsman is suing Statoil after petrol station workers turned down members of the Roma community who were looking to hire a car during a test carried out by a Swedish broadcaster.

For the test, which took place last summer, Sveriges Radio (SR) asked people dressed in traditional Roma clothing to attempt to rent cars from 65 petrol stations across the country, including stations operated by Statoil, OKQ8, and Preem.

On 22 occasions, the Roma-dressed customers were told that the stations had no cars available. But when a reporter from SR came to the same stations 30 minutes later, there were no problems renting a vehicle.

"It's very insulting and it's really unbelievable that people can look you in the eye and lie to your face," Pirjo Lindström, a Finnish Roma who helped carry out the test, told SR at the time.

Now, Sweden's Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, DO) has decided to take legal action against three stations belonging to the Norwegian multinational oil and gas company, claiming that the Roma customers "were treated worse that others have been treated in a comparable situation". The stations are in the Stockholm suburbs of Solna and Nacka, and in Luleå in northern Sweden.

"We are suing in this case to highlight the big problem that is the discrimination of the Roma community, and because we want to get a new court ruling on how large the compensation should be," Ulrika Dieterson at the DO told SR on Wednesday.

"We have extremely strong evidence. This conversation was recorded in audio, so we have strong proof of how the discrimination occurred," Dieterson added.

The ombudsman is suing for between 40,000 and 60,000 kronor ($6,040 and $9,060) for each individual instance of discrimination. 

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