The rejection

I’ve shared this story on Facebook and LinkedIn, so if you’ve already read it, you can skip this part.

In November 2021, I sent my CV to Inlingua Karslruhe (I.K.). It was an unsolicited application; I’d recently moved to Pforzheim, Germany and was applying for work in Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. I.K. replied that although my CV was ‘really interesting’ and they ‘really needed teachers ‘ as they said, they’re not allowed to hire non-native speakers.

I replied that this is discrimination and they told me they won’t talk about discrimination. They said it’s a company policy and I am welcome to apply for a job teaching Greek. I also emailed their head office in Switzerland, who completely ignored me.

I posted this on Facebook and Linkedin. My LinkedIn post has reached about 30,000 readers, there are over 200 comments and 350 reactions. 70 connections have reshared it . I never expected such huge response. Thank you everyone for your support!

I got lots of information and advice from my wonderfully supportive PLN. First of all I was told that this goes against Article 21 of EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. I didn’t know that. Here’s the link:…/article/21-non-discrimination. I was advised to contact the TEFL Worker’s Union and the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in Germany to ask what action I can take. I did. They replied that this is discrimination and the director is in no position to say anything at all about my accent or language competence in general, because they didn’t even interview me.. I was told I could sue I.K. for damages but I was warned that the courts may not see it that way . The company could argue that they should be granted an exemption as a language school.

To sue or not to sue

posted by a LinkedIn connection

At first, I hesitated about taking legal action. I know nothing about courts and trials. I don’t speak German. I was unemployed at the time so I couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer and risk losing, which would mean paying a couple of thousands (lawyer+court fees). The ELT community encouraged me to reach out to my local association and so I did. Thanks to ELTAS, I found Patrick Mustu, a lawyer (also a Legal English trainer) who agreed to help and only receive a fee if I get compensated. This was set at 33% of any monetary reward. As I was unemployed at the time, this was really helpful. I wouldn’t have taken any action otherwise.

The result

Patrick sent I.K. a demand letter asking for two full-time salaries as compensation. An online hearing was scheduled for the 14th February. I.K. postponed it to the 21st February. I didn’t attend but as Patrick said, the judge was on my side. He told I.K. they would lose if they took this to court. We therefore reached a settlement – they agreed to pay €3000.

I am hoping this concession means :

  1. I.K. acknowledged that this was discriminatory practice. I may be wrong but I noticed that there have been some changes on their websites. I see native speaker proficiency rather than native speakers.
  2. I.K. read all the Linkedin comments of the ELT community and realised that people will not be silent about this anymore, we will not tolerate this anymore. Some of my Linkedin connections who shared my post, mentioned they even had a PhD (!) and were discriminated against. Others mentioned they gave up teaching because they keep being rejected. When is this going to end?

I am pleased with the result. I will receive compensation for what they put me through. Taking them to court could have been a long process; it could last two years if they appeal twice. To be honest, I don’t even think I’ll still be in Germany in 2023. I am having too many issues here, unfortunately. It was very hard to find work, it took me months to figure out how to register as a small business. I always have so many tax questions and tax advisors cost a fortune. Being a student while working about 12 hours a week (plus prep) , I don’t have time to learn German, which I never found easy to begin with. As a result, I keep feeling helpless.

Here are some LinkedIn comments that encouraged me to take this further.

Here is what Inlingua wrote:

Thank you Daniel for your reply!

Thank you Gerald Smith for writing this article for the ELT Gazette! You can also read it here.

If this happens to you..’s some info you may find useful.

If you’re based in the EU, you can go to this website
Then click on ‘how to report a breach of your rights’.

Scroll down to ‘National equality bodies’ and click on ‘list of national equality bodies’.

Find information per region, select the country where this happened. You will see a list of courts or agencies where you can report discrimination.

Update: Melanie Butler also wrote this article for the ELT GAzette on March 28th.

Thank you to those who supported me, who shared my post, who commented, who helped in any way. I wouldn’t have done all this without you.