IKEA Poland Fires Man for Anti-LGBTQ Posts. Could You?

by Evil HR Lady on July 8, 2019

What do you do if an employee objects to your Pride Month celebrations? And what if that person objects, in writing, on the company intranet?

IKEA in Poland, had a case where an employee objected to an LGBTQ celebration and, according to IKEA: 

 “The employee actually used quotes from the Old Testament about death and blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexuals. Many employees concerned by this entry contacted our HR department.”

The employee, identified as Tomasz K. said, “I was shaken up. I’ve been hired to sell furniture but I’m a Catholic and these aren’t my values

Poland is a place without a lot of support for gay rights, and prominent politicians are backing Tomasz K. International values, they say are not Poland’s values.

And that is something to consider as you take your business global. What works in your current country may not work in your new country. And what you assume to be the case, may not be.

To keep reading, click here: IKEA Poland Fires Man for Anti-LGBTQ Posts. Could You?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

GreenDoor July 8, 2019 at 3:48 pm

I don’t think an American company necessarily has to bow to the will of the other country. Clout matters after all. If I’m a huge company like Apple or Google coming into another country, building infrastructure and hiring hundreds or even thousands of local people, boosting their economy, I could use that influence to say, “You don’t like that my company supports X or allows Y? Well fine, we’ll go somewhere else.” Maybe IKEA isn’t big enough…but companies that are should use their clout.

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Mr Bypassing Saudi July 8, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Businesses tred that fine line between earning money from all “customers with cash” and avoiding enmity between “customers with clashing cultures.” Apparently Apple has chosen to “thread this needle” by operating indirectly through Saudi businesses.
https://www.arabianbusiness.com/saudi-retailer-announces-opening-of-first-apple-stores-575777.html

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Kathy July 8, 2019 at 3:53 pm

My US company asked an employee who posted anti-LGBTQ bible verses on his office wall to take them down. He refused so they fired him for making a hostile environment for some of his coworkers. This was a good few years back when gay marriage hadn’t yet become a right and gays were not a protected class. I wondered at the time whether the law would have sided with the company or the employee if he had sued, but I admired their action.

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Just Me July 8, 2019 at 4:01 pm

I don’t know the Poland climate, but as an HR professional, my issue would be with the way he expressed himself. Posting that his beliefs don’t allow him to participate in LGBT events wouldn’t be a problem. Even posting that he believes it is a sin is gray at best. But posting that they deserve to die is crossing the line especially in today’s world where people have been known to kill others at their workplace or place of worship for such beliefs. I’m certain that at least some of the people who reported the post did so because they were fearful.

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BethRA July 8, 2019 at 4:20 pm

“the employee actually used quotes from the Old Testament about death and blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexuals”

This isn’t about his religion, this is about him posting two biblical quotes about how gay people should be put to death.

Surely even people who are opposed to LGBTQ rights understand that commenting that a group of people – including your fellow employees – should die ON A COMPANY NETWORK is reasonable grounds for firing someone?

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grannybunny July 8, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Agreed. The case law on religious accommodations draws the line where the employee’s exercise of their religious freedom impinges on the freedoms of co-workers. Furthermore, even if the comments had not been made on a company network, once the employer becomes aware of them, it has a duty to act to prevent the possible workplace violence implicit in those sentiments.

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MariaRose July 8, 2019 at 7:19 pm

The problem was not with the freedom of belief but the expression version used to publicly state the specific individual opinion. One thing that overly PC opinionated statements do is limit any and all discussion contrary to what they consider the standard. I am assuming that all employees for IKEA know the company’s public view and by accepting employment there know the restrictions. This individual, if they felt frustrated, used the wrong method to express this, so company had to do some form of disciplinary action. However I am not sure firing would be the first step unless this was a known documented issue in the way that this individual dealt with issues overall. Some people need to be told directly to their face about bias reactions and they should be given a chance to have a better less public means to express frustration, if they are feeling that they are being forced to do something contrary to their beliefs/views. I blame the overly sensitive PC movement for creating this reaction. Definitely an issue for HR to address. Once addressed by HR, a mutual decision to continue employment after a both oral and written reprimand would be the end result. A repeat issue can then be termination, but not the first response.

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BethRA July 8, 2019 at 8:16 pm

Guy posts not one, but two quotes saying that gays are worthy of death? Not “As a Catholic, I am opposed to participating in Pride events and don’t think Ikea should either” but “God says gay people should die”?

No, that’s not a written/verbal warning situation.

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Anonymous July 9, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Whenever someone rants against the “overly PC movement” of respecting other people, consider it a helpful hint in regards to their character.

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John July 20, 2019 at 7:21 pm

Is a work a place to talk about sexuality? No (at least when you are not in porno business). So why do companies rush so much for rainbows?!

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