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Discrimination when applying – what can you do?

Unfortunately, there is still such discrimination in the application process in 2020, as a current case from Germany shows (the applicant was rejected as a black person). That’s why I want to explain a bit about it.

Summary :

Discrimination is prohibited by the Equal Treatment Act. You can defend yourself by taking the case to the Equal Treatment Commission or to the labor and social courts. Compensation can only be awarded in court. There are always deadlines to be observed, so please seek advice in good time!

long version:

Discrimination in the working world is prohibited in Austria by the Equal Treatment Act (GlbG) . In addition to gender, sexual orientation, age, religion and belief, the characteristics protected by the law also include ethnicity.
So who in the world of work

  • the establishment of the employment relationship

  • the determination of the fee

  • the granting of voluntary social benefits

  • Measures of training and further education and retraining

  • professional advancement, especially in the case of promotions

  • the other working conditions

  • the termination of the employment relationship

is discriminated against can assert claims under the GlbG.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when you are disadvantaged because of your protected characteristic without there being any objective justification for it. Either direct discrimination (e.g. someone says they don’t want to hire black people) as well indirect Discrimination [eg an employer only wants to promote people who work full-time; but since women are disproportionately often employed part-time (eg because they also take care of raising children), women are disadvantaged here; this is a more “indirect” disadvantage than when the employer says only men should be promoted]. forbidden if there is no objective justification or the measure is justified, appropriate and necessary to achieve a specific objective.

What can be done against discrimination?

In Austria there are basically two ways open to you:

Option 1 is the Equal Treatment Commission . The Commission examines whether discrimination has occurred and makes recommendations. Damages, for example, cannot be claimed here, but the procedure is often used by people for whom it would be too “crass” to sue, but who also want their case to be examined by a competent group of experts.

Option 2 is the labor and social courts . This is where discrimination lawsuits come in. Victims who have been harmed often first try to reach a solution before the Equal Treatment Commission and – if this has not brought about the desired result – go to court as a “tightening”. You have to make the discrimination credible in court and you can then be awarded damages. For example, if you are refused a job during the application process because of your ethnicity, that would be two months’ wages (if you had gotten the job without the discrimination), otherwise up to EUR 500 .

It makes sense to get advice quickly in the event of discrimination (e.g. from the Equal Treatment Ombuds Office, Chamber of Labor or lawyers), because there are always deadlines to be observed within which you have to assert the discrimination.