Woman sues over ‘Ossi’ discrimination

Woman sues over 'Ossi' discrimination
Photo: DPA
A woman born in the former East Germany is claiming discrimination after discovering the word "Ossi" preceded by a minus sign had been written on a job application rejected by a firm in western Germany. She's going to court.

A bookkeeper identified in German media as Gabriela S. told news magazine Der Spiegel she was ready to take her legal fight as far as needed to stop what her lawyers are calling discrimination due to ethnic background.

Born in the former East Germany, Gabriela S. applied unsuccessfully for a job with a window manufacturer in the southwestern city of Stuttgart. When her application materials were returned to her, she found someone from the company had written the word “Ossi” preceded by a minus sign on her resumé.

“Ossi” is an term for eastern Germans that is often derogatory.

She is suing the company for discrimination based on ethnic origin. If she wins, the firm could be forced to pay her €4,800, or the equivalent of three months’ salary.

“They’ll only feel it if they have to pay,” she told Der Spiegel.

A labor court in Stuttgart must now decide if “Ossi” is an ethnicity. A decision is expected on Thursday.

The word “Ossi” is considered by many Germans from the former GDR to be pejorative, used by some from western Germany as an insult. The related “Wessi,” referring to westerners, is also used by some from the east as an epithet.

“I just want all this Ossi-Wessi stuff to stop,” Gabriela S. said.

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