A hospital in Skien, southeastern Norway has fired a Polish cleaner because she spoke her mother tongue during unpaid breaks, reports say.
Johanna Renclawowicz received a letter from her unit manager at saying that she will no longer be able to work at Sykehuset Telemark (ST) because “you have been given information that only Norwegian shall be spoken during working time.”
“Your colleagues and hospital users have repeatedly complained that Polish is spoken in the eating area, cleaning department and corridors etc,” states the letter.
Renclawowicz is now suing the hospital for unlawful dismissal. Her lawyer, Sebastian Garstecki, has also lodged a complaint with the anti-discrimination ombudsman, Dagbladet reports.
According to the lawsuit notification, she had been told that she should not speak Polish in her breaks when she got the job last year because her immediate supervisor disfavoured it.
It also reads that her unit manager started to hang up posters last January at work that stated, “We talk Norwegian at work!”
“Seeking major compensation is not the point in this case”, Sebastian Garstecki told the paper, “she just wants to prevent someone else being treated in this way.”
“She got fired because she reacted and stood up for their rights. Someone speaking their native language in unpaid breaks is not a valid reason for dismissal,” he added.
Hospital middle management would not comment on the matter in detail, but explain they are to have a meeting with the union.
“I believe most [procedural matters] have been carried out correctly so we can reach a good solution for all parties. Nonetheless, we made one mistake. She should receive one month’s notice since she has been employed for over a year,” a representative said.
Sebastian Garstecki concluded, however, “We hope for a constructive resolution to the dispute, but the case will go to court if the hospital is not willing to do this.”
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