Because “all men are created equal”… discrimination is on the news again

The Labour Code was recently amended by Law 151/2020[1] in a new attempt to fight against discrimination of employees.

What is discrimination?

The new amendments of the Labour Code bring a larger concept than the previous one and prohibit any direct or indirect discrimination of an employee, any discrimination by association, harassment or act of victimisation on grounds of belonging to a particular race, nationality, ethnic group, colour, language, religion, social category, genetical features, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, chronic non-transmissible disease, HIV infection, political choice, family situation or responsibility, union membership or activity, or disadvantaged category.

Discrimination remains a prohibited behaviour in the work environment.

However, not any exclusion, differentiation, restriction or preference in respect of a particular job constitutes discrimination. Exceptions are permitted if: (i) due to the specific nature of the activity in question or the conditions under which the activity is performed, there are certain essential and decisive professional requirements needed; and (ii) the purpose is legitimate and the requirements are proportionate.

Dismissal on discriminatory grounds (as detailed above) remains prohibited as well.

Sanctions

Failure to comply with the obligations regarding the prevention and elimination of any behaviours around the concept of discrimination, including non-compliance with the prohibition of dismissal on discriminatory grounds, represents an administrative offence and can trigger the application of fines between RON 1,000 and RON 20,000 by the labour authorities. Of course, this does not exclude the right of the affected employee to seek remedies in court.

[1] Law No. 151/2020 for the amendment of the Labour Code, published in the Official Gazette No. 658 dated 24 July 2020.

 

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