Peter Vinthagen Simpson, The Local (Stockholm), May 21, 2010
A Swedish appeals court has ruled that a Norrköping hotel was guilty of discriminating against a guest who was participating at a conference on ethnic discrimination at the time.
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.
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.