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Swedish fire service sued over affirmative action

 
 
 
 
 
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Södertörn’s fire department, just south of Stockholm, is being sued for actively choosing to hire women and people with foreign background, according to Sveriges Radio (SR).

The fire deparment’s gender and ethnicity quota became an unpleasant surprise for Simon Wallmark, who was informed that despite having trained as a firefighter, he was not encouraged to apply for a summer job, on account of being Swedish and male.

“The response I got from Södertörn was that I wasn’t qualified to apply for the summer jobs, because the jobs were reserved for women and people with an immigrant background,” said Simon Wallmark to SR.

He agrees that there is a need for more women and immigrants in the field, but argues that the recruiting should be done some other way.

Out of the 32 people finally hired by the fire department, 10 lacked the relevant education for the job.

The case is now being taken to court by Stockholm-based Centre for Justice (Centrum för Rättvisa).

“This is a case of a Swedish man who has been denied the same chances as others, just on account of being a Swedish man” Anna Rogalska-Hedlund, lawyer at Centre for Justice, told SR.

The agency has past experience of cases against affirmative action, and are now demanding 100,000 kronor ($16,000) for the discrimination, on Wallmark’s behalf.

The fire department’s manager Anders Edstam has no regrets about the recruiting, explaining that they made a conscious choice to include women and immigrants, and that those recruits lacking the necessary education will be receiving it through the job.

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