Czech court overturns fine against club for refusing Romani patrons admission after errors found in investigation
The Regional Court in Brno, Czech Republic has overturned a fine of CZK 200 000 (EUR 7 400) handed down by the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (ČOI) against the JOLS company in Jihlava for discriminating against Romani people who were allegedly denied entry to one of the company's clubs in 2014. The firm argued that the specific individuals whom it did not permit into the club had previously caused problems there and that it does not refuse entry to Romani people across the board.
The court has overturned the fine after finding that the Inspection Authority committed errors in its investigation procedure. Yesterday the ČOI told the press it will not appeal the verdict.
The money that has been paid toward the fine will now be returned to the company. "They will review the additional evidence and on that basis decide how next to proceed," ČOI spokesperson Jiří Fröhlich told the media.
Fröhlich also said the company had initially been allowed to pay the fine off in installments. "The amount the company has already paid will of course be returned to it now," he said.
The firm that operates the club first proposed to the ČOI that it would provide testimony from other Romani customers who were in the facility at the time of the incident. The ČOI, however, considered that unnecessary and initially fined the firm CZK 400 000 (EUR 14 800), which its own central inspection division then reduced by half.
"The court absolutely rejects the conclusion arrived at by the administrative authorities that the fact that other persons of Romani origin could be found insde the facility at the time it was audited should not have influenced their deduction that the plaintiff was liable," the court ruled. The judge said the opposite was the case and the Inspection Authority should have interrogated the other Romani customers in the club at the time.
The ČOI, according to the court, did not correctly assess the entire situation in order to rule out all doubts prior to levying the fine. In addition to overturning the fine, the court has returned the case to the Inspection Authority for review.
"We welcome the court's decision by the court and see it as highly valuable, since it has restored the basic principle of the guarantee of a fair trial, and we call for it to be complied with," Jan Havlíček, attorney for the firm, said after the verdict was delivered. He also said the company will make sure the money it has already paid toward the fine will now be returned.
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