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Law

Ikea sued by Polish government for sacking homophobe who told colleagues gay people deserved death

Patrick Kelleher July 23, 2020
Ikea store

IKEA (Getty)

Ikea is being sued by the government in Poland for allegedly infringing upon an employee’s religious rights after he was fired for making horrific anti-LGBT+ comments.

The former Ikea employee, identified as Tomasz K, was fired last year when he refused to take down a homophobic comment he posted on the company’s internal site.

Now, Poland’s anti-LGBT+ government is suing the furniture company, claiming it infringed upon the employee’s religious rights, according to Bloomberg.

Prosecutors in the country – which recently re-elected staunchly homophobic president Andrzej Duda – have charged the IKEA human resources director with restricting the employee’s religious rights.

Marcin Sadus, a spokesman with the prosecutors office in Warsaw, told Polish news service PAP that Tomasz K was fired because of “arbitrary judgements and prejudices” by the IKEA human resources director.

Poland says Ikea ‘must respect religious freedom’.

Sadus said the Ikea human resources director showed prejudice towards the worker who, in expressing his “opinions” on gay people, “referred to Catholic values”.

“Employers, including multinational corporations, are obliged to respect the privacy of employees, including avoiding ideological actions not linked to their work,” Sadus said.

He said the company must “respect the freedom of expression of views, conscience and religion” and must not “discriminate against employees on the basis of their world view”.

An Ikea spokesperson confirmed that its human resources director has been indicted in the case and said they will provide “full support” to them.

The Swedish furniture company acted swiftly.

Tomasz K was fired last year by Ikea after he posted a series of anti-LGBT+ remarks on the company’s internal website.

“Acceptance and promotion of homosexuality and other deviations is scandalous,” he wrote, alongside several anti-gay Bible verses.

Ikea said at the time that the employee had expressed an opinion “in a way that could affect the rights and dignity of LGBT + people”.

He used quotes from the Old Testament about death, blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexual people.

“In addition, the employee actually used quotes from the Old Testament about death, blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexual people,” it added.

“Many employees raised by this entry contacted our HR department.”

Ikea’s decision to fire the man was in line with the Polish labour code, which requires employers to combat discrimination due to sexual orientation — but it caused outrage across country, and the retailer faced a nationwide boycott.

Poland’s justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro called Ikea’s actions “absolutely scandalous” and ordered the prosecutor’s office to probe the case.

Anti-LGBT+ sentiment has become increasingly common in Poland in recent months.

Earlier this year, a third of the country declared itself an “LGBT free zone”, while Polish president Andrzej Duda hinged his re-election campaign on his opposition to queer rights.

 

More: Andrzej Duda., IKEA, Poland

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