Racial and gender discrimination in STIPEL Board Meeting minutes. November 1938

12/12/2008 - 00:00 AM

  • Racial and gender discrimination in STIPEL Board Meeting minutes. November 1938
- + Text size
Print

The minutes of the STIPEL Board Meeting held on November 25, 1938, chaired by Ugo Bordoni, relate to a black day in the history of STIPEL, and a disgraceful act in Italian history: promulgation of anti-Jewish racial laws by the Mussolini government.
In just four lines of the minutes, under the “Personnel” section, the company Chairman notes the immediate application at STIPEL of the Decree Law dated November 17, 1938. Article 13 of this decree prohibited the employment of persons belonging to the Jewish race by government organizations, publicly-owned and publically-controlled companies: “Fourteen employees of the Jewish race have recently been placed on leave; we await further instruction on applying provisions regarding issues of race.”
Other public bodies and companies were much less zealous in applying the decree. It would be worth investigating why STIPEL was so quick to put it into force. Whatever the reason, on May 1, 1939, for racial reasons temporary leave became permanent firing for the 14 workers concerned, as we learn from papers relating to a March 1947 dispute, in which one of the dismissed workers appealed for his job back. At the end of the legal process, the court ruled that the employee who suffered discrimination should be reemployed, but that he should forfeit any right to seniority bonuses for the years he was not allowed to work for the company. In his decision, the judge cited the precedence of a ruling by the Court of Cassation on January 24, 1948 (Ruling no. 96). The employee did not even have the right to go back into the same job as he had held before.

At that same November 25, 1938 Board Meeting, once again under the “Personnel” section, more time was spent on how to avoid a detrimental application of the Decree Law of September 5, 1938, which discriminated against working women categorized as “female clerical workers”. According to article 1 of Royal Decree Law no. 1514, “female clerical workers” employed in government departments and private companies should account for no more than 10% of all clerical workers employed, unless, as specified in article 3, the job in question was “particularly suited to women”. The STIPEL Chairman ventured that this measure would not apply to female switching staff at the company’s exchanges, because they were officially recognized as “workers”. As regarded other female employees, for the most part they were in jobs that “by their innate nature” were “particularly suited to women (shorthand typists, typists, comptometer operators, etc.)”. If this interpretation had been accepted, the practical consequences for STIPEL would have been greatly attenuated.

Minutes from the 1938 STIPEL Board Meeting and papers from the 1947 dispute are both held in the CSS (Carte Sociali Stipel) Collection.