Thursday. 30.11.2023

Swedish clothing retail giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) is being investigated over reports it had discriminated against customers due to their ethnicity in Sweden, a government agency said.

People with different ethnic backgrounds other than Swedish have for instance been required to show a receipt when changing items, in violation of company policy, the Swedish Equality Ombudsman said on Wednesday.

The so-called supervisory investigation was launched following reports in Stockholm daily Aftonbladet.

Aftonbladet recently posted footage of customers with different  ethnic backgrounds being rejected when they tried to exchange clothing items that still had their price tags. Some of the customers were equipped with hidden cameras.

The newspaper interviewed about 60 customers and H&M employees.

Treated worse than others

"The information that has emerged in the media reports that customers are treated worse than others due to their ethnic background is the reason why the Equality Ombudsman has requested a response from the company," said Lars Arrhenius, who heads the government agency.

The ombudsman has written to H&M and expects answers by December 22 regarding its policy in exchanging clothing items and its stance on discrimination.

H&M confirmed that it has been contacted by the ombudsman, but didn't provide further comments.

Additionally, the ombudsman was interested in accounts from customers who were denied exchanging clothing items who featured in media reports or had similar experiences.

Sweden investigates alleged ethnic discrimination by retail giant H&M