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28 May, 2020 19:06

IKEA values vs Polish traditions: Manager faces up to TWO YEARS behind bars after firing employee opposing pro-LGBT event

IKEA values vs Polish traditions: Manager faces up to TWO YEARS behind bars after firing employee opposing pro-LGBT event

An IKEA HR manager has been charged in Poland with violating the religious rights of a Bible-citing employee, who was fired after refusing to endorse a pro-LGBT event. Now, the manager could end up behind bars.

The Warsaw-Praga District Prosecutor’s Office has decided to press charges against the manager, whose identity has not been revealed, arguing that this person has infringed upon an employee’s rights on the basis of religion. The decision to sack the employee was based on “arbitrary assessment and prejudice” toward a man expressing “Christian” views, it added. Now, this person could face anything between a fine and a two-year prison sentence.

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The controversy dates back to last June when the Swedish furniture and home goods store decided to delve into the public debate on LGBT rights in Poland and express solidarity with LGBT people by staging an event in support of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

The company also called on their local staff to show solidarity with the LGBT people as well as participate in the event. The idea did not sit well with a man identified as Tomasz K., who decided to raise his objections in the corporate chat. According to some media reports, the Catholic cited some particular Bible verses allegedly stating that homosexuals deserve death and “their blood is upon them” to somehow prove his point.

That was enough for the company’s management to fire him, arguing that they had to react to a “risk of breach of dignity of other employees.” The prosecutors, however, dismissed IKEA’s argument by saying that Tomasz K’s words were not an “attack on a specific person from among his colleagues, but a response to the employer’s action.”

Now, IKEA has sent a short statement to AP vowing to “provide all the help and support to our charged co-worker.” The case previously garnered a lot of public attention in Poland, including that of the Justice Minister and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro, who called the retailer’s decision to sack the employee “absolutely scandalous.” The Polish Labor Inspectorate, however, found no rights violations in IKEA’s actions last August.

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Ziobro is one of the conservative politicians who see the growing LGBT movement in Poland as a danger to the nation’s identity. He previously described this case as “legal and economic violence against those who do not want to share the values of the pro-LGBT activists.” His deputy, Marcin Romanowski, also slammed the Swedish retailer for “promoting LGBT ideology” as well as contributing to “aggressive revolution that destroys our tradition.”

The Polish Catholic Church also weighed in on the standoff between IKEA and the Polish conservatives, criticizing the Swedish retailer. The Church added that it had received “disturbing signals” about “attempts by other companies to propagate LGBT ideology” with the support of some “foreign activists.”

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