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I took FSFE to court. This is my story

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Legal

Soon after the first lockdown in Berlin this year I filed a public case in the Berlin Tribunal of Labour Court against the president of Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), Matthias Kirschner, for workplace bullying.
Why? A female colleague and me had dared to discuss wage transparency and gender pay gap in the office. Apparently it is common in Germany that this gap exceeds 20%, but we both felt secure that the free software movement is progressive, and cares about being inclusive and equal opportunities oriented.
Unfortunately we miscalculated – our boss Matthias was beyond furious.
After that office meeting, he told my colleague “there will be consequences”. Our efforts coincided with the resignation of Richard Stallman from the US-based sister organisation of FSFE due to careless revictimisation of female victims of sexual abuse- another gender discrimination issue in our community that would cause the situation in our office to deteriorate quickly.
In its reluctant press release on this pivotal change in leadership in the largest free software organisation in the world, the FSFE had opted to honour Stallman for his undeniably long service and overlook the social issues underlying the change – something with which I expressed dissatisfaction, and not without support from colleagues.
It led to immediate retribution.
I was ordered to rewrite the text and was warned that I had “three hours to do it. Whether we will publish it or not, is going to be my [Matthias', my rem.] decision, not yours”. Free software is in most of our digital infrastructure, and I care a lot about inclusivity in this community to ensure that our most basic tools can be developed by everyone's perspectives for everyone's needs, so I rewrote our announcement. But not only was it never published – it was not even honoured with his feedback.

Read more

Court case: Matthias Kirschner, FSFE women and volunteers

  • Court case: Matthias Kirschner, FSFE women and volunteers face modern day slavery

    A blog has appeared with details of the allegations against Matthias Kirschner, including workplace bullying, sexism, stalking and underpayment of women.

    Everything in the blog is entirely consistent with the observations of the last fellowship representative: Kirschner is a thin-skinned despot who tries to control everybody around him. We previously covered Kirschner's character defects here.

    We were not sure whether to name the women who were fired by Kirschner. You can see their names on this snapshot of the FSFE web site before Kirschner decided to blame them for his own small-mindedness. Now the women published a blog, will Kirschner publish their names in the next FSFE meeting minutes? Look out for the names Susanne Eiswirt and Galia Mancheva. Their crime? They wanted to be paid.

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