“Looking for a Danish employee”

The Danish Board of Equal Treatment recently held that the wording of a rejection letter was likely to ‎create a presumption of discrimination on grounds of ethnicity.‎

nvi_portraetter_done_014_web.jpg

If an employer is looking to hire, the potential candidates’ ethnicity must generally not be a factor in the ‎decision. In this complaint before the Board of Equal Treatment, the issue was whether the wording of a ‎rejection letter was likely to create a presumption of discrimination on grounds of ethnicity.‎

The case concerned a company which was looking to hire a marketing manager. One of the applicants ‎had an Arabic-sounding name. He was born and raised in Denmark and generally seemed to be qualified ‎for the job.‎

The applicant, who had submitted an English-language application, received the following reply from ‎the company: “Thank you for your application and interest for [company]. Unfortunately we are looking ‎for a Danish employee as our new marketing manager. Good luck”.‎

The applicant filed a complaint with the Board of Equal Treatment, arguing that it was absurd, ‎derogatory and discriminatory to select candidates based on ethnicity. The company did not respond.‎

The Board sided with the complainant, holding that the fact that the company had concluded based on ‎the applicant’s Arabic-sounding name and English-language application that he was not Danish created a ‎presumption of discrimination on grounds of ethnicity.‎

As the company had done nothing to disprove this presumption, the Board decided in favour of the ‎complainant and awarded him DKK 25,000 in compensation.

Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that the decision illustrates that an unfortunately worded rejection letter may create a presumption ‎that protected characteristics have been a factor in the candidate selection process, and it is therefore ‎important for employers to ensure that rejection letters are worded as objectively and neutrally as ‎possible.

The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.

More about the subject