A gardener in Gothenburg who said he suffered months of racist and sexual abuse at work has taken his case to Sweden's equality watchdog, stating he was told to cut his Islamic beard to resemble George Michael in order not to upset "racist Swedes".

The alleged abuse began at the interview stage, as the man was told he would have to cut his beard to work at the company. "Swedes are racist," the employer said. Therefore it was necessary for the man to cut his beard as "we work for a Swedish company".

When a case worker from Sweden's National Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen), who was helping the gardener with his application, stepped in to ask the employer what exactly the company meant by its requirement that the job seeker trim his beard, he was told the man's facial hair should be "like George Michael".

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