“People who are clearly foreign” may have difficulty in getting hired in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

One matter that surprises me about labor discrimination is how some employers believe it is ok to exclude people because of ethnic background. The most recent case involves the Nokkakiven amusement park near Jyväskylä that stated on its job openings page that “if your appearance is clearly from another culture, people who look clearly foreign” might have problems getting hired.

Apart from the employer claiming that gender equality (tasa-arvo) is important in Finland, but it is ok for the company to discriminate based on ethnic background, it is amazing that these types of stories continue to pop up.

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One of the most incredible stories that Migrant Tales published was in 2011, when an entrepreneur from Joensuu published on the Te-services employment page that people “with the wrong skin color” need not apply.

The entrepreneur was slapped with a 645-euro fine for publishing such a racist ad.

Another case happened in 2018, when a woman of color was told that she not of the right ethnicity for the job. The women from Rwanda said she was about the get hired until the employer found out that she was black.

In 2014 we reported that a Muslim woman who wore a headscarf to work on her first day was fired. The managers of the Guess clothing store deny that the woman was fired because she is a Muslim but were fined by a Helsinki District Court. The ruling was the first-ever based on religious attire.

In Scotland, Sweden, Minnesota and in other parts Muslim women are allowed to wear hijabs. In Finland, a Muslim woman in 2014 was not admitted to the police training school because she would not take off her headscarf during working hours. The woman was so disappointed with the rejection that she even contemplated leaving Finland.

Sikh bus driver Gill Sukhdarshan Singh’s long fight to wear a turban at work ended in a victory for him in 2014. Singh said that he went to work on that historic Friday (February 21) at 10 am. Even so, he had been struggling with his employer for about a year to have the right to wear a turban at work.

Labor discrimination is not the only form of hostility that migrants and minorities face daily in Finland. Even Finnish fitness centers advertised in 2015 that migrants needn’t apply as members.

The list of discrimination cases in this story is only a microscopic tip of the iceberg. The question we should ask, if we are serious about challenging discrimination in Finland is if the authorities are doing enough.

Do they have sufficient resources to tackle such problems? Are they serious about challenging racism and discrimination?