Tenant reported for ban on sledding for Jews

Published

No sleighs for JewsIf convicted, the tenant will probably get off with a fine

The tenant of the Pischa mountain station in Davos has banned Jewish guests from renting sledges in a notice. A legal expert expects a lenient sentence if convicted.

Thomas Sennhauser
von
  • A notice posted in the Pischa mountain station in Davos prohibits Jewish guests from renting sports equipment.

  • The Swiss Association of Israelite Communities has now reported the operators.

  • A legal expert assesses whether the tenant has to expect a penalty.

When renting sledges and other snow sports equipment, the tenant of the Pischa mountain restaurant in Davos posted a letter. “Due to various sad incidents, including the theft of a sled, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This applies to all equipment such as sledges, airboards, ski jacks and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities condemns the incident as anti-Semitic and says it will file a complaint in the next few days. Since it is an official offense, the Graubünden cantonal police have also started the investigation.

The lawyer Christian Lenz from the law firm Lenz & Caduff classifies what threatens in the event of a conviction:

Similar case from 1999: “Albanians are not allowed in”

Examples from the past show that operators who refuse to provide a service to nationalities or ethnic groups are difficult to hold legally accountable. And if it succeeds, the sanctions will be mild. 20 Minutes reported something about a case in Schwyz in 1999, when a landlord left his restaurant with a sign that read: “For security reasons, guests from the former Yugoslavia/Albania are not allowed in!” has provided. The innkeeper was sentenced to a fine of 300 francs.

Does the tenant have to expect a penalty?

Christian Lenz: A notice can constitute a violation of Article 261 of the Criminal Code. This is what is known as active discrimination. For example, the article criminalizes denying a person or group of people a service intended for the general public because of their religion. However, if there are objective reasons for the unequal treatment, a court would not impose a penalty.

What would be an “objective reason”?

An objective reason would exist, for example, if an association that supports non-smokers does not allow smokers access. Basically, the principle of freedom of contract applies. This means that the tenant has the right not to rent to certain people. Could the tenant justify the notice with an “objective reason”? Not in my opinion. In the case of such services, which can in principle be used by anyone, it is generally not permitted to use religion as a reason for not renting the property.

Even if there have been several incidents in which Jews did not behave?

No. Just because individual people may not have behaved in accordance with the law, it is not permissible to impute this fact to everyone else in a group.

What penalty does the tenant have to expect?

If the court convicts the tenant, I expect a similar punishment to that in the described case in Schwyz 1999. However, the case does not necessarily have to result in a conviction. Ultimately, it depends on the overall circumstances, for example what the exact background to the notice is and what those responsible were thinking.

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