Discrimination in working life

Discrimination is prohibited:

  • in recruitment and in selection for a position or training ► Discrimination in hiring
  • regarding pay and other terms of employment ► Pay discrimination
  • when supervising work, distributing duties and in the general working conditions ► Supervision of work and working conditions
  • when ending the contract (e.g. dismissal and cancelling a contract) and when transferring or laying off an employee ► Dismissing and laying off employees

Discrimination is:

  • direct discrimination
  • indirect discrimination
  • harassment
  • instructions and orders to practice discrimination

Countermeasures taken by the employer are also considered discrimination at work.

Who do the prohibitions apply to?

  • people who are in contractual or public service employment
  • partly to people who work in other legal relationships which are equivalent to employment relationships
  • partly also to companies who use temporary agency workers (user companies)

Prohibitions against countermeasures taken by the employer

The Equality Act prohibits the employer from taking any kind of countermeasures if an employee has invoked the Equality Act. Countermeasures signify putting a person in a disadvantageous position for example by

  • changing their duties, not giving them a raise
  • increasing the monitoring of their work performance or working hours without cause
  • increasing their workload excessively
  • making it more difficult to organise working hours or time off

At their most extreme such countermeasures involve the termination of the employment relationship.

The protection afforded by the prohibition of countermeasures applies both to the individual invoking the Equality Act as well as any witnesses and other individuals who have assisted in the matter. Compensation demands may result from the employer's countermeasures even if they take place after the employment relationship has been terminated. The employer must also see to it that other employees do not engage in countermeasures against individuals who have appealed to the Equality Act.

Employer's account to the employee

If an individual suspects that they have been discriminated against in working life, the employer is to give without delay, on the employee's request, a written account of the reasons for their actions. In this way the employee can evaluate whether there is reason to continue with their case and possibly refer it to a court of law. The giving of such an account helps to prevent unnecessary legal actions.

If the matter relates to a recruitment situation, the account must include the grounds for selection, the education, work experience and other experience of the chosen candidate, and any other factors influencing their selection. When there is cause to suspect pay discrimination, the employee has to be given information of the grounds for hiring them and other necessary information.