Discriminatory use of supervisory powers and discrimination at work

The employer is guilty of discrimination if they manage the work, distribute tasks or otherwise arrange the working conditions in such a way that an employee finds themselves in a clearly less favourable position than other employees on the basis of gender, gender identity or gender expression.

Included under work management are matters such as use of work time and work supervision, work space arrangements, distribution of work equipment, and development of employees' duties and professional skills. Discrimination includes, for example, duties being divided so that the most monotonous and boring tasks are given solely to either men or women. It is also considered discrimination if the opportunity to work overtime is given only to men, or if only women's working hours are changed to be part-time.

The significance of the division of work is emphasised particularly in situations where the quality of duties is decisive in regards to opportunities to advance into new and better paid positions. The employer is not guilty of discrimination if they can demonstrate that their actions were due to another acceptable reason, and not the applicant's gender.

According to the Employment Contracts Act, a person returning from family leave has the right to return to their former job. If this is not possible, the employee must be offered work under a contract of employment that corresponds to his or her former job, and if this is not possible either, some other employment under a contract. Provisions on the right to persons returning from family leave to return to their former job are also laid out in European Union directives (see Discrimination due to pregnancy and family leaves).

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.