Discriminatory job advertising in Hungarian press

The Budapest-based Roma Press Center (RSK) informed the Hungarian press that on June 8, 1998 a discriminatory job advertisement was published in Express, the most popular Hungarian advertising daily. The advertiser was exclusively looking for "white-skinned, anti-alcoholic" applicants. The construction entrepreneur who advertised the position admitted that with this wording he had meant to exclude Roma applicants, but he did not think the advertisement was offensive to other people. When asked why he had decided to place such an advertisement, he said that his workers would not be willing to work together with Roma, and his clients would not have hired him either if he had employed Roma.

The Editorial Board of Express claimed that they accepted the expression "white-skinned" because in their opinion it is not a negative description. Had the advertisement said that the employer will not accept brown-skinned applicants, it would have violated the law, so they would not have published it.

On August 4, 1998 the Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Minorities Mr Jenő Kaltenbach submitted a recommendation to Ms Ibolya Dávid, Minister of Justice, to examine the possibilities for drafting legislation forbidding racial discrimination in the field of employment. Mr Kaltenbach requested that measures be taken by the Capital City Supervisory Body of Labour Protection. According to Mr Kaltenbach, the advertisement at issue violated the Constitution, the rights of national and ethnic minorities and the Labour Law. The Ministry of Justice and the Supervisory Body are obliged to inform the Ombudsman within 30 days whether any of the requested measures have been taken.

There is no precedent in Hungary as yet for a suit filed concerning racial discrimination in employment. However, the City Court of Monor, a settlement south-east of Budapest, recently found a job advertisement to be discriminatory towards women, since it said that only males were expected to apply for an administrative position.

(Roma Press Center)

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