Slovakia: Sale of salon to hairdresser underway until landlord, neighbors see he is Romani
Dalibor Ferenc, a 22-year-old hairdresser, was recently offered an opportunity to buy a hair salon business in a small town in the Žilina Region of Slovakia by the salon's current tenant, who has to retire because of ill health. All appeared to be hopeful - Mr Ferenc agreed with the current tenant of the salon that he would buy all the equipment from her, and according to the tenant, the building owner had nothing against the change.
Mr Ferenc's dream of running his own hair salon, however, collapsed after the manager of a neighboring fabric store declared - in front of witnesses - that she did "not want a gypsy next door." The young hairdresser described his experience to news server Romea.cz: "I spoke with the building owner several times by telephone. When he came to meet me in person at the hair salon and saw me through the door, he immediately announced to me that he had a different candidate for the space and that he had already agreed to lease it to them. In my opinion, a role in the decision to say that to me was played by the fact that, allegedly, the tenant in the shop next door had declared that she would rather break her lease with him than have a 'black gypsy' next door."
The retiring hairdresser had already introduced Mr Ferenc to several of her customers, who had praised his skills. She wants to remain anonymous, fearing negative reactions in the small town once the case is publicized.
According to the salon owner, the tenant from the shop next door who allegedly made those racist remarks is refusing to communicate with her neighbor anymore. The salon owner is still standing up for her young Romani colleague, though.
"Dalibor is a very skilled guy, he could have even more customers than I do, he just needs to get a chance to work with them. The clients really praised him. Actually, I do not like how some people are behaving toward him here," the retiring hairdresser told news server Romea.cz.
The building owner, Mr Ruček, who manages the leasing of its commercial spaces, has been contacted by news server Romea.cz for comment. "I don't know anybody like that. I have never spoken with a Mr Ferenc and from the beginning I have had only one sub-lessor," he told news server Romea.cz.
Despite Mr Ruček's assertions, there is apparently a record of Mr Ferenc's telephone calls with him, but in actuality it is very difficult to combat this form of discrimination. Not only must one have enough energy and time to wage a lengthy civil law dispute, one must also have the financial resources to do so.
"I want to work, to pay my taxes, to function normally. This is, however, the third such experience I have had, and it is very depressing. I have done nothing wrong, they just don't want me around because I am a Rom," Mr Ferenc concludes.
In similar cases where a person feels he or she is at risk of being subjected to illegal treatment, it is important to record and save all telephone calls and other communications. If one does decide to address the matter through the courts, such material is evidence against the person who committed the discriminatory behavior.
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