Romani Woman Claims Discrimination at Work

16 December 2004

According to a July 20, 2004 Press Release of the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), on May 13 Ms Jasmina Nikolić, a Romani woman from Belgrade’s Železnik suburb employed by Belgrade Bakeries (BPI) in the area, was transferred to a plant on the other side of Belgrade, for no reason. An employee since 1996, Ms Nikolić purports to being regularly subjected to racist harassment by her supervisor, Ms Kristina Marković, who called her “Jasmina the Gypsy”; other non-Serb employees reportedly experienced similar treatment.

In Železnik, near her home, Ms Nikolić’s started work at 6:00 AM. Her shift on the other side of the city starts at 5:00 AM, despite the fact that Ms Nikolić has to make several transfers from bus to bus. She is now also required to move of heavy materials. The HLC reported that Ms Nikolić is in poor health and on May 11 began haemorrhaging and has been on sick leave since then.

During the month of June, Ms Nikolić twice requested to be informed of the official reason for her transfer. Thereafter, her legal representative, of the HLC, received a letter which stated that employee transfers were the decided by supervisors and were customary practice. According to the HLC, Article 16 of the Law on Basic Labour Relations states that the transfer of employees to another workplace is possible only if the interests of the organisation specifically require this and if the new job is in accordance with the professional qualifications of the transferred employee and his or her capabilities. The order must also contain the specific reason for the transfer.

Ms Nikolić and the HLC asked the court to order her transfer back to her former workplace and that she be reimbursed for the court costs.



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