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How a Serbian Citizen Sued Swiss Air Lines For Discrimination and Harassment... and Won

This was the first time that such a verdict was published in Serbia.
Datum: 19/07/2018

How a Serbian Citizen Sued Swiss Air Lines For Discrimination and Harassment... and Won

Photo Igor Pavicevic/Nedeljnik

A Serbian citizen and a well-known physician who treats melanoma in London and various European cities, has sued Swiss Air Lines for discrimination and defamation and won the court case.

The verdict was, on the court's orders, published in a 12-page supplement in Politika, Serbia's newspaper-of-record, last week.

This was the first time that such a verdict was published in Serbia.

Doctor Marko Lens, who was a regular and frequent flyer and an "Honorable" member in Lufthansa Group (owners of Swiss Air Lines and Austrian Airlines) claimed he was insulted on-board in March 2011, when a member of SwissAir cabin crew called him "Serbian swine". Mr Lens tried to complain, but his appeals have all been rejected by the airline and he was banned from flying by the company. In 2014, after the ban expired, he was again insulted, by the joint station manager of Austrian Airlines and Swiss Air Lines in Belgrade, Ms Dorit Rosenberg.

Mr Lens spoke exclusively to Nedeljnik, the prominent weekly newsmagazine in Belgrade.

"Ms Rosenberg told me that Serbian people should not travel at all, and then she proceeded to insult me, asking if I was attending a gay pride rally in Belgrade and adding that 'homosexuals should all be killed', after which I complained to the company and was rejected again. Therefore I decided to sue the company for discirimination in Belgrade, in order to protect my reputation. Not only am I a doctor, I was also a very important customer for the members of Lufthansa Group. At the same time, I filed a lawsuit against Austrian Airlines in Vienna", Mr Lens says.

The court ruled in his favour, although Mr Lens says it wasn't easy.

"The representatives of the company were insulting the court and the plaintiff during the process. They were pressuring their employees, who have been subjected to mobbing by Ms Rosenberg, to give false testimonies. Shockingly, they even falsified the documentation, the court ruled. It never even crossed their mind to offer an explanation for their behaviour and to apologize. Ms Rosenberg, who had been found guilty of harassment, was actually promoted and now she works for Lufthansa Group in Houston", explained Mr Lens in a lengthy piece in Nedeljnik.

Besides an indemnity of RSD 500,000 and more than RSD 200,000 for court expenses, Swissair also had to pay for 12 pages of an advertisement. Based on pricelist of the "Politika" daily, it had to spend close to RSD 2.2 million for that, VAT excluded. This means that only one case of discrimination has cost this company close to RSD 3 million so far, i. e. around EUR 25,000.

Mr Lens donated the money to the hospital which treats children with disabilities in Belgrade.

He says that he is satisfied with the verdict, but still feels that the airline companies should have offered an apology, instead of ignoring it.

"All along, I was trying to get in touch with anyone in Swiss and Lufthansa who would listen and react, but it never happened, even though Luftansa Group's Code of Conduct was clearly broken, as the court in Belgrade decided", says doctor Lens.



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