Latvian Court Finds Employment Discrimination in Case Brought by Romani Woman

13 November 2006

According to information published on the website the Latvian National Human Rights Office (LNHRO), on 25 May 2006, the Jelgava City Court issued a finding of discrimination in access to employment in a civil case brought by the LNHRO on behalf of a Romani woman. At the end of 2005, the Romani woman, who was not named, approached the LNHRO after she applied for work at the Palso company as a salesperson. The woman, who was sent for the interview by the Latvian employment bureau, claimed that her interviewer told her that she was not appropriate for the position, allegedly because of her accent when speaking Latvian, without even considering her qualifications. The Romani woman believed the interviewer's response to be the result of her ethnicity, so, failing to achieve a conciliatory agreement with Palso, the LHNRO filed the civil case, seeking compensation for moral damages. In its 25 May decision, the Jelgava City Court ordered Palso to pay 1,000 Latvian lats (approximately 1,420 EUR) in damages to the Romani woman in question. Ms Liga Biksiniece, head of the LNHRO Discrimination Prevention Unit and representative of the Romani woman in court, was quoted as having expressed satisfaction with the court's finding and stating that the decision constituted the first time in Latvian jurisprudence when a person received compensation because of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity in access to employment.



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