Finnish newspaper fined for dismissing gay editor

lesbiansThe Helsinki Court of Appeals has found in favour of Johanna Korhonen in her battle for wrongful dismissal. Korhonen had accused the Lapin Kansa newspaper of unlawful dismissal on the grounds that she was involved in a same-sex relationship.

The Pohjois-Suomen Media group, which owns the newspaper, has been ordered to pay damages and legal costs of EUR 80,500 (USD 109,000). This amount includes charges of EUR 40,800 for wrongful dismissal in addition to EUR 5,000 for equity law violations, EUR 34,600 in severance pay and also up to EUR 30,000 for Korhonen’s legal bills.

The verdict has been labelled as unfair by defendant company owners Alma Media group, who refute claims that Korhonen was dismissed due to her sexual orientation, and has suggested that they will take the matter under appeal to the Finnish Supreme Court. YLE reports that several management members at Alma Media could potentially face criminal charges over Korhonen’s dismissal, while the action has been called illegal discrimination by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The ruling has overturned an earlier decision last summer by a lower court where Korhonen previously lost her case. The lower court ruled that a breach of trust has led to Korhonen’s firing rather than her sexual orientation. Korhonen had announced her appointment to the post of Editor-in-Chief prematurely and also did not advise her employer of the political activity of her partner, which was deemed reasonable grounds for dismissal. She argued that fellow Alma Media employees had political ties or spouses involved in politics, and that her removal from the post before she even took up the position occurred abruptly, and soon after her employer discovered her life partner was a woman.

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