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Discrimination at work

Verified 27 November 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

No employee or public official may be discriminated against at work in terms of hiring, training, wages..... This can be racist, sexist, homophobic, age-related or health-related discrimination. Discrimination against political or trade union opinions is also prohibited.

Private sector

Grounds for discrimination

Discrimination occurs when the employer treats its employees differently based on:

  • Age
  • Physical appearance
  • Genetic characteristics
  • Banking
  • Health status
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability
  • Gender identity
  • Spoken language (ability to speak in a language other than French)
  • Place of residence
  • Mothers
  • Name
  • Philosophical opinions
  • Political opinions
  • Sexual orientation
  • Origin
  • Particular vulnerability related to the economic situation
  • Loss of autonomy
  • Alleged race, ethnicity, nationality: membership or non-membership
  • Religion: belief or affiliation or non-affiliation
  • Gender
  • Family situation
  • Syndicalism

Cases concerned

Discrimination in the workplace can occur in several stages:

  • Hiring a new employee
  • Termination of employment
  • Contract Renewal
  • Transfer or promotion to another internal position
  • Determination of salary and other forms of remuneration
  • Training
  • Reclassification
  • Determination of the tasks entrusted to the employee

Employees, trainees and apprentices are protected against discrimination.

Please note

no employee may be punished or dismissed for having reported discrimination.

Privacy

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Hiring candidate

The information requested from a candidate during recruitment should only enable him to assess his skills.

The employer is required to comply with certain rules concerning selection of candidates.. It must not raise unjustified questions about privacy, in particular whether the information requested may constitute grounds for discrimination: questions about religious practices, marital status...

For example, a job applicant is not required to disclose her pregnancy status.

Employee already hired

The employer must respect the privacy of its employees. He can't collect information on the political or trade union opinions of its employees or on their sexual orientations for example.

An employee must reveal pregnancy to his employer only before leaving on maternity leave.

A difference in treatment may, in some cases, justify the refusal of a job or any difference in professional treatment. This difference in treatment must meet an essential professional requirement.

Thus, the following activities may be specifically reserved for a woman or a man:

  • artists who must play a male or female role,
  • dummies responsible for presenting clothing and accessories,
  • male and female models for photographs.

For reasons of safety and protection of the health of workers, access to certain jobs may be prohibited for workers who are too young and/or too old.

The employment of young people below a certain age is prohibited by law in certain cases (in the case of night work, for example).

It is also possible to set a maximum age for recruitment. The age must take into account the need to retain the person hired for a period of time prior to retirement and the training required.

Other differences in treatment may be provided by law. This is the case, for example:

If your situation requires urgent intervention by the police, you can alert the police or the gendarmerie.

In case of emergency, and only in this situation, it is possible to alert the police or the gendarmerie by telephone call, or by SMS if you are unable to speak.

By phone

In an emergency, when a rapid response is required, you must call the emergency police.

Who shall I contact
By SMS

If you have difficulty hearing or speaking, you can also send an SMS to the 114.. You will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

Who shall I contact

If you are discriminated against at work, you can report the facts to the staff representatives and the Social and Economic Committee.. You cannot be punished for denouncing these facts, unless the denunciation is based on imaginary facts.

On site

You must contact a police station or gendarmerie of your choice.

Who shall I contact

You cannot be denied receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor by the police or the gendarmerie.

By mail

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

Any discrimination is punishable by 3 years in prison and €25,000 fine.

An employee may refer the matter to the prud'homme council to resolve any conflict over a case of discrimination. For example, to challenge a refusal to promote.

A job candidate can also take legal action against his refusal to hire.

Who shall I contact

If you believe that you are being discriminated against, you can contact the Advocate:

On site

You can make an appointment with a representative of the Defender of Rights.

By mail
Who shall I contact

Public sector

A public official shall not be discriminated against, in particular by his hierarchy, on the grounds of his opinions, sex, origin or state of health.

This prohibition applies to both recruitment and career development and applies to both staff and contractors.

Freedom of opinion implies that no discrimination may be made between agents on the basis of their political, trade union, philosophical or religious opinions.

A public official may join the trade union of his choice.

The career of an agent who is a candidate or elected to an elected office (e.g., a municipal councilor) should not be affected by the opinions expressed during his or her campaign or mandate.

The administration must never mention in the individual file of an agent or in any administrative document his political, trade union or religious opinions. The agent may request to consult his/her individual file at any time.

Any agent who has engaged in or ordered discriminatory acts shall be liable to disciplinary sanction..

FYI  

The public official is also subject to certain limits in the expression of his opinions (obligation of reservation).

A public official cannot be discriminated by reason of origin, sex, health or disability.

Any agent who has engaged in or ordered discriminatory acts shall be liable to disciplinary sanction..

However, recruitment in the public sector is limited:

In specific cases, age or gender distinctions may be made by the administration between officers.

Age conditions may be laid down for:

  • the recruitment of a staff member active category (police, fire brigade, etc.),
  • the career of an official, on the basis of certain professional requirements, justified by experience or seniority (age conditions for access to certain employment corps or executives by internal promotion).

Distinctions may also be made between women and men in the setting up of competition or examination panels and in the appointment of its representatives to the CAP: titleContent and technical committees, to respect parity.

If your situation requires urgent intervention by the police, you can alert the police or the gendarmerie.

In case of emergency, and only in this situation, it is possible to alert the police or the gendarmerie by telephone call, or by SMS if you are unable to speak.

By phone

In an emergency, when a rapid response is required, you must call the emergency police.

Who shall I contact
By SMS

If you have difficulty hearing or speaking, you can also send an SMS to the 114.. You will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

Who shall I contact

You can use the system for reporting violence, discrimination, moral or sexual harassment and gender-based activities in the public service. This mechanism must be put in place in each administration by 1to May 2020. It provides for appropriate procedures to collect reports and to guide the officer declaring himself a victim or witness.

The Head of Service shall inform the officer under his authority of the existence of the reporting device and of its use. and its procedures.

The system must guarantee the strict confidentiality of information transmitted by the victim or witness when processing the report.

If a person has been discriminated against, he or she may file..

On site

You must contact a police station or gendarmerie of your choice.

Who shall I contact

You cannot be denied receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor by the police or the gendarmerie.

By mail

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

Any discrimination is punishable by 3 years in prison and €25,000 fine.

The staff member may also refer the matter to the administrative court for discrimination or harassment:

Who shall I contact

An official claiming to be a victim of discrimination may refer the matter to the Ombudsman:

On site

You can make an appointment with a representative of the Defender of Rights.

By mail
Who shall I contact