Employers: Roma, do not call us!

Slovak ad websites publish numerous discriminatory advertisements.

(Source: SME)

Firm Rakmont CZ of Slovak businessman Kamil Juščák offers people work in a warehouse in the Czech Republic via website bazoš.sk. However, it has one condition: “Roma, do not call.”

This is not an exception on the internet in Slovakia. The Slovak Spectator found five such listings on advertisement website bazar.sk published over a ten day period in September. There are more in other sections. For example, some people refuse to sell their cars or motorbikes to Roma or do not want to give them their puppies.

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“If people publish such conditions so boldly and publicly in advertisements we should want to know how the general situation looks,” Irena Biháriová of People Against Racism NGO told The Slovak Spectator. “Things which Neo-Nazis were too afraid to do in the 90s are becoming normal standard because no one is dealing with them.”

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Firms could be fined

Simply publishing such an advertisement violates legislation against discrimination, according to Vanda Durbáková, a lawyer cooperating with the Centre for Civil and Human Rights.

“From our experience, more often there are cases when employers don’t openly say in an advertisement that they don’t accept Roma but they refuse them after a job interview due to their ethnic origin,” Durbáková told The Slovak Spectator.

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In fact, Juščák stated that he will remove the discriminatory part of his advertisement but this will not change his behaviour.

“When someone calls me to respond to an advertisement the first question will be: Are you Roma,” Juščák told The Slovak Spectator. “If yes, then [I will say]: Thank you very much, goodbye.”

Employers discriminating against people can receive a fine of up to €100,000 and sellers doing the same can be fined up to €66,400.

Discrimination does not apply only to Roma. Overthe summer, accommodation facility Stella Apartments, which is situated in a lucrative part of Bratislava, wrote on Booking.com that they do “not accommodate anyone coming from countries where military conflict / Kurds / or war or military change of government. No, we are not racists, we are reasonably careful and think of our other clients”.

The Slovak Trade inspection is now dealing with the case.

No puppies for Roma

The Slovak Spectator approached an advertiser going under the name Sebastian who offers puppies for free, except to Roma. He refused to state his reasons on record.

Paradoxically, a week after Sebastian published his advertisement civic association Help For Dogs in Eastern Slovakia published an advertisement offering dog Jopo to good people, showing that Roma can care for animals like anyone else. Jopo’s former owners placed him in front of Roma houses and locals took care of him, fed him and later asked this civic association for help.

In such cases when a person is not selling anything but still discriminates it is difficult to demand protection based on anti-discrimination laws, according to Durbáková.

“However, such an affected person can demand protection in court for violating his or her personal rights, according to my legal opinion,” Durbáková said.

Read also: Busting the Roma welfare myth Read more 

Websites refuse discrimination

Bazar.sk administrators regularly monitor their website. Also users can alert them and they have to remove such listings or delete problematic parts, according to Lukáš Hladík, marketing manager of United Classifieds, the firm running the website.

“Sadly, various advertising websites fight with the problem of discriminatory advertisements,” Hladík told The Slovak Spectator.

To avoid such advertising, the biggest job website in Slovakia profesia.sk filters all offers, according to its PR manager Katarína Tešla.

“If a job offers contains discriminatory elements we will contact the firm and call for change,” Tešla told The Slovak Spectator.

Bazoš.sk has not answered questions.

Advertisement websites should filter their posts more effectively but blame is also on inspectors. No one prevents them from taking the initiative to look for such advertisements. In the past, they used a rare, but effective method of acting like someone interested in the offer and then fining the advertiser, according to Biháriová.

“A few solved cases which would serve as warning to others would be enough,” Biháriová said.

Read also: ETP: State could learn from our work with Roma Read more 

Bad experiences

Rakmont CZ is not accepting Rome because of bad experiences with them, according to Juščák.

“I was giving work to Roma,” Juščák said. “They got advance payments, per diem allowance and then they packed up and ran away.”

No matter what the reasons are, such behaviour is discriminatory, according to Jarmila Lajčáková of the Centre for Ethnic and Culture Research.

“When marginalised people receive signals that they are unreliable right from the beginning there is a big chance that they will truly become such people,” Lajčáková told The Slovak Spectator.

On the other hand, also programmes aiming to increase qualifications of marginalised groups are often pointless and fail to teach those people working habits, she added.

“For example, they were grazing goats and they liked it but still were not able to find a proper job later,” Lajčáková said.

Employers who deal with marginalised people without working habits should hire a specialist or extend competences of their direct superior who would help them to overcome difficulties in such a new situation, according to Slávka Mačáková, the director of ETP Slovakia, the NGO dealing with Roma.

“Those people haven’t been working for a long time, they were studying near settlements and don’t know unwritten rules of middle class,” Mačáková told The Slovak Spectator.

For example, they are used to being close to their families. Therefore, they are not sure how to react when they have work but someone is sick and needs help etc., according to Mačáková.

The government wants to deal with this problem by creating social firms but the legislation has not been completed.

Nevertheless, bad experiences cannot be an excuse because its still generalising, according to Biháriová.

“How many of such bad experiences are needed for Roma who are qualified and willing to work to make them ultimately resign,” Biháriová asks. 

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