Czech bookstore fires clerk for racially insulting Romani colleague on social media
The Kanzelsberger bookstore chain has decided to fire a saleswoman who racially insulted a Romani colleague on Twitter and posted other racist remarks there. On Sunday, Daniel Hůle of the People in Need (Člověk v tísni) organization shared the posts through his own account and asked the bookstore's management whether such behavior would be tolerated.
The bookstore then tweeted that "Mr Kanzelsberger considers the behavior of the saleswoman to be professionally repulsive and as of today she no longer works for us." The woman, whose Twitter account is under the name "Tereza Bart", posted that "Even walking through Brno's Cejl district would be more pleasant to me than teaching a cikánka at work."
The woman continued her racist insults in the thread beneath her initial post. "After all, everybody knows the normal color is white," she added.
The firm has distanced itself from the opinions of its former employee. "Her behavior was incompatible with a humane approach, she can't insult her colleagues," Jana Kmuníčková, head of the marketing department, told news server iROZHLAS.cz.
"This does not express the firm's attitude toward minorities," the marketing head told iROZHLAS.cz. Those following the controversy immediately divided themselves into two camps.
Some are condemning the behavior of the saleswoman, while others are calling Hůle an "informer". Others are reflecting on whether firing the woman wasn't too strict a punishment for her behavior.
"The fact that the firm let the saleswoman go is appropriate (by the way, what's the situation with her severance pay?). However, I would be interested to know whether this won't just lead the woman who has been let go (Tereza) to commit even more hatred. How do you all believe it would be most correct to proceed so Tereza becomes aware she has not behaved properly and insulted somebody?" tweeted former ice hockey goalkeeper Dominik Hašek.
The journalist Saša Uhlová, in a commentary for the A2larm.cz website, has also reflected on the punishment. "A racist employee of a bookstore has been fired. Her firing, in the best possible case, will just be of aid to a couple of individuals, but unfortunately it will not reduce discrimination here against Romani people," the journalist wrote, adding that she believes the saleswoman should not have been fired, just reassigned to a different job where she would not be able to discriminate against anybody.
Uhlová points out that discrimination is omnipresent and destroys the lives of most Romani people in the Czech Republic. "The feeling that it is possible to publicly incite racism and bully Romani employees and job-seekers springs from the fact of what people are able to disseminate in the public space. Many politicians and others who influence public opinion make ample use of racist remarks," the journalist observed. "Through their speech they are supporting what the human resources person from Jablonec did in this case, but at the same time they are rewarded from their own such attitudes. Journalists invite them to appear on the radio and television and ask them for their opinions, they interview them for the newspapers. It is increasingly frequent that the more outrageous they are, the more publicity they get, and not infrequently they cast themselves in the role of the 'oppressed' even though they are MPs, Presidents or Senators. If the hammer of justice sometimes comes down on everyday racism, it reliably falls on ordinary people, not on the promoters of racism from the ranks of the elites or politicians."
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