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Alma Media CEO charged with discrimination for second time

The charges stem from his treatment of a female candidate for the position of editor-in-chief at the Aamulehti newspaper.

Kai Telanne on tyytyväinen Alma Median digiliiketoimintojen kehitykseen.
Alma Media CEO Kai Telanne Image: Markku Pitkänen / Yle

Alma Media CEO Kai Telanne again faces charges of employment discrimination related to a female candidate for a top newspaper job.

On Tuesday prosecutors announced they were pressing bias charges against Telanne and the company's Human Resources chief, Virpi Juvonen. The case centres on the recruitment of Päivi Anttikoski to become editor-in-chief of the group's flagship newspaper, Aamulehti. The Tampere daily is Finland's largest-circulation provincial broadsheet.

In a statement, Alma Media says it "denies that the suspects are guilty of the crime of employment discrimination and emphasises that family ties did not affect the selection of Aamulehti’s editor-in-chief in any way. Alma Media takes equality very seriously, and discrimination of any kind has no place in the company."

Ollila: No effect on Telanne's position

Telanne and Juvonen deny breaking any laws.

Alma Media chair and former longtime Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila said that the charges would not affect Telanne's position -- for now at least.

“The Board of Director [sic] trusts that the recruitment process was conducted properly, and that employment discrimination has not occurred. The pressing of charges has no effect on the position at Alma Media of the individuals concerned. The Board of Directors will monitor the legal process and if necessary, reassess the matter when the decision is known,” Ollila is quoted as saying in the statement.

Lapin Kansa case dates back to 2008

The current case goes back to late 2017, when Anttikoski was close to being hired as editor-in-chief of Aamulehti. She said that Telanne decided not to hire her when she said that her husband and 10-year-child would initially stay in Helsinki after she started work in Tampere, less than 200km away. She claims she was dropped as a candidate after saying this, despite the previous male editor having a similar arrangement.

Anttikoski is a former journalist at Yle and MTV3 news and editor at the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat. Since last year she has been Director General of government communications in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Two years earlier, the Supreme Court fined Telanne in a separate job discrimination case. That case dated back to 2008, when Johanna Korhonen's contract was cancelled after she was selected as the new editor-in-chief of the Rovaniemi-based Alma daily, Lapin Kansa. The court found that the annulment came after Telanne found out that Korhonen's spouse was a woman.

The Anttikoski case will likely go to trial in November or December.

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