Discrimination in dismissals, ending an employment relationship, and lay-offs

The employer may not give notice on, terminate or otherwise discontinue the employment relationship of one or more employees on the basis of gender, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood or family obligations. An employee may also not be laid off or transferred to other duties on these grounds. (Section 8 in the Equality Act)

It is not the purpose of the regulations of Equality Act to restrict the rights of an employer to scale down, expand or otherwise organise the scope of operations in the way that they find appropriate. The Equality Act does also not revoke the regulations in the Employment Contracts Act or the collective agreement regarding protection against dismissal, lay-offs or termination of the employment relationship.

When dismissing an employee the employer has to abide by the regulations in the Employment Contracts Act regarding termination of contracts and the order of dismissal of the workforce if this is included in the collective agreement. In this respect a result of the Equality Act is, however, that the operations cannot be organised according to gender. The employer cannot follow any conditions in the collective agreement that may lead to discrimination in individual cases and are therefore in violation of the Equality Act.

If an employee suspects that they have been discriminated against regarding a dismissal, being laid off or the termination of a contract, they can request a written account from the employer laying out the reasons behind the dismissal or laying-off. The employer has to provide this account without delay. If several employees have been dismissed or laid off, the account has to explain the reasons behind this.



Do you suspect discrimination?

  • If you suspect that you have been discriminated against you can receive instructions and guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality.
  • In cases of discrimination at work:
    If you are a member of a trade union you should get in touch with the union steward and find out your rights.
  • Guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality is free. The trade union membership fee includes the right to legal advice.
  • You can also contact a legal aid council, a lawyer's office or a lawyer. You will usually be charged for legal services. Check if you have the kind of legal expenses insurance which covers your legal expenses.

    If you are of limited means you may be entitled to the services of a legal aid council for free or for a reduced fee.