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Sweden: Refusal of Entry into Store Not Discrimination

(Nov. 25, 2011) In October 2011, the Swedish Supreme Court decided not to hear a discrimination case on a fur store owner's refusal to admit four Romani customers into his store because he was closing for lunch. As a result of the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case, the Göta Court of Appeal's decision that the store manager's behavior did not amount to discrimination will stand.

The case involved four Romani women who were denied access to a fur coat store in the Swedish city of Örebro in 2006. The women approached the store to buy coats during lunchtime, but were denied access because of the store manager's unscheduled lunch and asked to return at a later time. There was no notice of the unscheduled closing on the front door of the store, which indicated the hours that the store was open.

The Diskrimineringsombudsman [Ombudsman for Discrimination Matters] (DO) brought suit, arguing that the conduct constituted discrimination because the refusal of entry of the women was based on their ethnicity. The DO especially highlighted the size of the store and the potential gain from selling fur coats as evidence that the storeowner would have kept the store open for economic reasons had it not been for the women being Romani.

The Court of Appeals, however, found that the DO had not met its burden of proof for this assertion and the Court believed the statement that the man was closing for lunch. The women thus had not been the victims of discrimination, the Court ruled. (Pälsaffär diskriminerade inte romer [Fur Shop Did Not Discriminate Against Romani Customers], DAGENS JURIDIK, (Oct. 14, 2011); Göta Court of Appeals & the district court cases, DO website (last visited Nov. 16, 2011).

Prepared by Elin Hofverberg, Law Library Intern, under the guidance of Edith Palmer, Chief, Foreign, Comparative and International Law (FCIL) II. Ms. Hofverberg has a Jur. kand. (Master of Laws) from Uppsala University. She recently earned an LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from The George Washington University Law School.