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Discrimination: German railway operator convicted because of addressing passenger as "Mr."

Frankfurt am Main - The Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Frankfurt am Main has condemned Deutsche Bahn for discrimination. Reason: The company addressed a customer who felt diverse as "Mr." In each individual case in which no "non-binary" form of address is used, penalties of 250,000 euros are threatened.

The judgment of the last instance has far-reaching consequences: Effective immediately, the company may no longer use the previously customary salutations when issuing tickets, in customer service letters or in advertising and stored data. The judges did not allow a transitional period for this. This is “technically feasible as well as reasonable in terms of finances and personnel”.

Higher Regional Court: "Significant mental stress"
Another consequence: From next year, the booking system must also be changed so that Deutsche Bahn no longer only addresses its customers with "Mr." or "Mrs." Either that is dropped completely or the company has to find a third form of address, which has so far been completely unclear.

A customer who calls himself René_Rain Hornstein complained. The underscore and middle name are meant to indicate his sexual diversity. In the eyes of the Higher Regional Court, the railway company ignored this "non-binary" orientation and thus discriminated against the passenger. Therefore, the group now has to pay compensation of 1000 euros. Because, according to the judges, “the plaintiff” suffered immaterial damage. He experienced "the attribution of masculinity" as an attack on his own person. And that leads to significant mental stress.

For Deutsche Bahn, which sees itself "as a group for a culture of equal opportunities and appreciation", "diversity" is a top priority, the company said. Gender-appropriate language has already been introduced in all areas of the company. And yet one does not know exactly what to do now: "There are still no universally recognized standards for addressing non-binary gender people in the German-speaking world," said a spokeswoman to Die Welt. Even within the group of people affected, the ideas about this are currently still very different.

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