Discrimination of Roma in employment

Published on: 27.03.2011

Employment is a big problem for most Roma. The main reason is that Roma are easily recognisable from their unusual appearance. An employer sees not potential worker, but operates his own prejudices about Roma. As a result, Roma people are often refused to be employed without any explanations, even without checking their qualification, education or work experience.

There are very few cases when employers do not pay attention to ethnicity but rather evaluate personal and work skills and hire Roma people. What work can the majority of Roma apply? Of course, only unqualified one. There is no secret that many of Roma have only primary education. Even that some of them never went to school. That is why they work as assistant workers or loaders in constructions. Dishonest employers hire these people with great pleasure: they do not sign official work contract, promise good wages but, after all, pay “chicken feed” or even do not pay at all. Hundreds of cases can be named when Roma people work for months and are paid only for a part of the done work. They cannot receive their money as there is no work contract, they are illiterate and do not know their rights. They will not go to complain anywhere as they assume nobody would help them. But I want to say that this is a mistake: every person has rights and has to strive for justice. If you cannot do it on your own you should ask for a legal help.

Roma women have especially large problems in employment. Many Roma women try to register at unemployment benefit offices to find a job and receive relieves. The workers of such offices do not register them quite often. For example, 30-year-old Regina M. lives in Pskov. She has worked as a salesperson for the whole life. But Over the last years there is no benefit from trade so she closed her stall. There was no money to pay taxes. She tried to trade illegally but it did not work out as well. She had no education and, as a result, no chance to receive a good work offer. Regina tried to register as unemployed to find a job and receive relieves. But when the workers of the office saw a Roma woman, they did not register her as she had no education. And added after that the state does not have to pay relieves to uneducated Gypsies.

I heard dozens of stories like that. Everyone should know: unemployment benefit office has to register everyone who applies. If the workers of the office reject to register you a written explanation of the reason should be asked. It is even better to go to the office with witnesses who could confirm that the workers rejected registration. Then an application should be submitted to the prosecutor’s office.

I heard complaints that unemployment office gives a reffereal to a job but then they reject when see a Roma person. Justice should be achieved here as well: the employers must explain why they do not hire a person even if they have job placements. If the only reason is their dislike of Roma, such decisions should be objected in the court.

Alexander Klein

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