The National Discrimination Tribunal of Finland fines Nordea for discrimination

by , under Enrique

The National Discrimination Tribunal of Finland (Syrjintälautakunta) has given Nordea Bank Finland a conditional fine of 5,000 euros for not accepting a French identity card as proof of identity, the Tribunal said in a statement.  Moreover, the Tribunal considered the bank’s refusal to serve the client and his removal from the premises as an infringement on his dignity and integrity. 

Writes JusticeDemon: “A conditional fine is similar to a suspended prison sentence. Just as the felon must report to the parole office and stay out of trouble, a party that has been fined in this way must report back to the authority on its further conduct.”

“The Tribunal considered that no official instructions or the Bank’s own instructions prevented the Bank from accepting the petitioner’s French identity card as proof of identity. Because the petitioner’s French identity card is accepted as a travel document across the European Union, its reliability is comparable to an identity card issued by Finnish authorities when establishing a person’s identity,” according to the statement.

Foreigners who are stateless have had an especially hard time in opening bank accounts in Finland because it says on their passport that the person’s identity cannot be verified, Migrant Tales reported in March 2011.

Even so, some banks have given stateless persons a bank account but without the right to online banking. Other banks require a valid driver’s license, while other ones don’t accepted it as valid identification.

The National Discrimination Tribunal is an impartial and independent judicial body established under the Non-Discrimination Act and appointed by the Government.

    • JusticeDemon

      It was indeed a conditional fine, and in many ways this is much more effective than a regular fine that can simply be paid and forgotten or strung out in a time-consuming appeals process. The amount involved is less than peanuts to this offender. Instead they will be much more concerned at the bad publicity attending this incident and the prospect of even more trouble if they now fail to get their house in order.

      The details of the story are particularly interesting. I understand that the agreement between the bank and the customer in this case even stipulated that the French identity card would be accepted as proof of identity. This means that the incident involved a generous helping of sheer incompetence on the part of the bank staff involved, as this detail should have been made available at the customer service points where it would be relevant.

      I also wonder about the complexion and age of the customer in this case, but perhaps these will not come to light.

    • Farang

      I was thinking the same thing, 5000 euros is basically nothing for company like Nordea.

      But I really don’t understand this conditional fine. It’s like saying “you did wrong, but if you do right now, you won’t get punished”. More effectively would be fining them for the discrimination and in addition put on a conditional fine in case they do it again.

      What wasn’t clear on the statement was if it was actually only this one employee who was discriminating? If that was the case why would the fine the employer?

  1. JusticeDemon

    Farang

    A conditional fine is similar to a suspended prison sentence. Just as the felon must report to the parole office and stay out of trouble, a party that has been fined in this way must report back to the authority on its further conduct.

    In this case the fine will become payable if Nordea fails to take steps to improve its operations. The practical impact in this case is the threat of further bad publicity if it cannot satisfy the authority that such steps have been taken.

    Employers are vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees when conducting the employer’s business. This is a solidly established principle. If a construction worker leaves the handbrake off and a bulldozer rolls down a hill and destroys your house, then you may sue the construction firm for losses suffered due to the negligence of its servant.

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