'Wired' Czech Romani women win racial discrimination cases

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Two landmark anti-discrimination cases involving members of the Romani minority were settled this week. In both cases, the women had posed as jobseekers, inquiring about advertised positions, but were denied interviews —which were later granted to "white" applicants.

When Vera Dunkova, a member of the Roma or Gypsy minority inquired about an opening at the "Scorpio Club", a fashion boutique in downtown Prague, she was told by the store manager that as four other applicants had already been accepted, and several more were scheduled for interviews, she could not be considered for a job.

What the Scorpio Club manager didn't know was that Mrs Dunkova was wired: the whole conversation was being taped, as was a conversation that took place only minutes later between the boutique manager and a non-Romani "tester" working for the Czech civil rights organisation Poradna. The manager told the "white" woman that several positions were still available within the boutique's chain of stores, without even asking about her qualifications.

Vera Dunkova had been a victim of racial discrimination, the Prague High Court said on Tuesday, upholding a ruling by a lower Prague court which heard the case last year. The Scorpio Club has been ordered to apologise for its actions and pay Mrs Dunkova about $1,000 dollars in compensation.

Tuesday's high court verdict comes just days after the international drug store chain Rossmann International gave up its appeal in a similar court case. The case also involved a Romani woman and non-Romani tester. They both "applied" for the same job at a Rossmann's store in the western Bohemian city of Cheb within minutes of each other; only the Romani woman was told there was no opening. In that case, a city court ruled that differential treatment had clearly been proven, and the Rossmann chain was ordered to apologise and pay about $2,000 dollars in compensation.