(Bloomberg) -- Polish prosecutors have sued Ikea of Sweden AB after its local unit fired a man over his actions during a gay-pride corporate event, saying the furniture retailer infringed on the employee’s religious rights.
A year ago, Ikea said that it terminated the contract of an employee who’d “used quotes from the Old Testament about death and blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexuals.” The company said it addressed concern among workers in response to the comments that ran counter to its culture based on the “freedom of ideas, tolerance and respect.”
Prosecutors charged Ikea’s human resource director with restricting a worker’s rights because of his religious beliefs, a crime which carries a maximum two-year jail term.
Poland’s ruling nationalist party ramped anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the final stretch of the campaign before a presidential election on July 12. President Andrzej Duda, who won re-election after a close race, cast gays as the enemies of families. Poland ranks last in the European Union for gay rights, according to advocacy group ILGA.
Marcin Sadus, a spokesman for the Warsaw prosecutors’ office, said the dismissal appeared to be “the result of arbitrary judgments and prejudices” by the Ikea director toward a worker “who, expressing his opinion, 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 told state news service PAP. The company is also compelled to “respect the freedom of expression of views, conscience and religion, and not to discriminate against employees on the basis of their world view.”
Ikea spokesperson Anita Ryng confirmed that the company received an indictment against one of its managers and said that it will provide “full support” to the employee. She didn’t comment on the merits of the case in an email to Bloomberg News on Thursday.
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