Strike One for Common Sense
Posted by Exile on January 28, 2008
Coop Denmark, one of the largest supermarket chains in Denmark, has been told to pay the princely sum of 123,000 Danish Crowns in compensation to a former employee whom they sacked for calling a muslim colleague who wears a headscarf a “Hættemåge”. (Translation: Black Headed Gull). Here’s a picture of just such a one. (Note: the Danish word Hætte means Hood.)
Gulls aren’t exactly the smartest of birds and that is probably why someone, somewhere, felt “insulted”, but the strange thing is, that the expression was never used directly by the employee to his or her colleague. It was used descriptively. Which means that a third party has been out making trouble. Aparently the name caller has never deen abusive before and never got the chance to explain him- or herself to his or her employer. The courts agree that being referred to as a black headed gull is demeaning but it was not used directly as an insult to the poor muslim victim of this outrageous verbal and racial abuse.
The Danish industrial organisation “Danske Erhverv” calls the judgement harsh and proclaims that it will be hard for employers to stop namecallers and that this will eventually damage the working environment for many. They claim that employers are forced to react to such namecalling to ensure a harmonious working atmosphere.
Actually, I agree with the judges. The normal tone at any place of work is what you make it. There should be room for disagreement, for the two that can’t stand each other, the flirters and the grumpy and all the others that come and go in a busy place of work. I know I’ve been called worse things than this at work and I’ve probably called others a lot worse too. Usually one gets quickly over it and gets back to the days business. Where would we be if we went running to the boss every time someone called you a jackass? I think the term “Grow up!” would probably get thrown about a bit more than ususal.
Strike this one up to common sense. We can’t all leave our personalities at the gate when we meet up for work.
They hired the whole package.