The case involved a 48-year-old East German-born bookkeeper identified as Gabriela S., who claimed she had suffered discrimination after discovering the word "Ossi" preceded by a minus sign had been written on a job application rejected by a window manufacturing firm in the southwestern German city.
"Ossi" is a term for eastern Germans that is often derogatory, and Gabriela S. and her lawyer sued the company for three months salary on grounds of discrimination based on ethnic background.
But the court said former East Germans could not be considered their own tribe.
“Regarding ethnic background there is more to consider than just regional origin,” the court's head judge said, though he did acknowledge that the term “Ossi” could be understood pejoratively.
Meanwhile the window firm claimed that they rejected the 48-year-old's application because she was unqualified for the position. The company claimed that the minus sign on her paperwork was meant to signal her lack of skills, while the term “Ossi” was meant positively.
The company also claimed that it had good experiences with former East German employees and had apologised via telephone for accidentally sending the applicant “internal documents.”