The European Foundation of Human Rights notices that increasingly more often there are job advertisements on the internet that have a discriminating character. As an organisation serving the community, the Foundation with its work contributes to bringing obeying human rights into our everyday lives and is concerned by such advertisements as those mentioned above. Therefore, we would like to give a few pieces of advice on what to do in order to avoid such mistakes when writing job vacancy advertisements. We would like to remind that discrimination is prohibited by both the Lithuanian and international law and regulations.
According to international law regulations, especially the European Parliament’s 2006/54/WE directive (05/07/2006) on the need of introducing equal opportunity rights and equal employment rights for both men and women forbids any kind of discrimination due to the victim’s gender, when it comes to qualifying for employment in either the private or the public sector in terms of setting specific criteria or requirements for employment, the type, position within the organisation or for a promotion within the organisation, to which this act applies. The described directive was adopted in Lithuania as an act on equal opportunities of men and women (lt. Lietuvos Respublikos Moterų ir vyrų lygių galimybių įstatymas). Article 8 of that act states that advertisements of job vacancies are not to have any types of requirements that are in favour to any one of the two genders or discriminates any people on the basis of the marital status, their age (apart from the cases where the law states otherwise), their current occupation, their private lives or their future plans in terms of starting a family.
The Council of Europe’s directive no. 2000/78/WE (27/09/2000), which in its Article no.1 sets out the general requirements in terms of the way in which people are treated when it comes to work and employment states, that the aim of the described directive is to set out the general outline of what should be done to fight against discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, a disability, age or sexual orientation when it comes to employment. The directive was introduced to enforce in the EU member states the equal treatment policy. The Lithuanian Republic’s act on equal opportunities is relevant here as it introduces the above mentioned directive into Lithuanian law. Article 11 of that act states that in advertisements on job vacancies, training or taking up a public service job, it is forbidden to set requirements that give priority to some people on the basis on their gender, race, nationality, language, origin, disability, ethnicity or religion.
The Foundation highlights that in order for a job vacancy ad to not be discriminating, it should satisfy all of the requirements outlined by the documents named and described above. Discrimination can be on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or belief, language, origin or current social status. An employer, who gives specific criteria as to what gender, age or something else the candidate must meet in order to qualify as suitable for the advertised position, is violating human rights. If the advertised job itself does not require any specific skills (such as a shopkeeper), all employers should avoid setting skills-related criteria for their candidates.
It is worth pointing out that the Lithuanian legislation does indeed predict some exceptions as to which criteria in what situations do not have a discriminating nature, as for example the Act on gambling (lt. Lietuvos Respublikos azartinių lošimų įstatymas) states that only people over 21 years of age are to be employed in that field. Such age requirements are justified and therefore are not considered as discriminating. Article seven of the Act on equal opportunities also considers other situations where specific criteria are not treated as discriminating as for example some positions such as an organiser of a sports competition for disabled people good skills of the country’s official language and political neutrality.
The European Foundation of Human Rights encourages everyone to report any cases of job advertisements that you notice and that may be violating the law. We would also like to thank everybody who so far gave us information about such ads. We encourage you to work with us.
The European Foundation of Human Rights
Translated by Kamil Szwarc within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.