January 30, 2009

Company allegedly targeted foreign names

Some employees of a Swedish telemarketing company allege their employer urged them to change their foreign-sounding names to increase sales.

An unidentified Business by Phone employee alleged he and 13 other employees were pressured by the telemarketing firm to change their names to names more reminiscent of Sweden, The Local reported Friday.

The first thing I heard was that I should change my name because otherwise I wouldn't sell anything, the anonymous employee alleged.

The company employed an estimated 20 workers, but only those with foreign backgrounds were allegedly urged to alter their names.

Equality Ombudsman lawyer Torbjorn Andersson said if the workers were actually called upon to hide their ethnic background by changing their names, Business by Phone would be guilty of discrimination.

If it's the case that this is something being directed toward people with a certain ethnic background, it could certainly be a case of ethnic discrimination, Andersson told the Local.