The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) invites everyone to familiarize themselves with the latest report of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) regarding the years 2012-2013, and published in May 2014. It is the account concerning “Racism and Related Discriminatory Practices in Employment in Lithuania”. The statement was prepared by Birutė Sabatauskaitė and Eglė Urbonaitė from the Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights (Lietuvos žmogaus teisių centras).
EFHR also contributed to the preparation of this report by giving interviews and sharing information about discrimination during the recruitment process, in the workplace, and during the breaking of job contracts. EFHR is mentioned a couple of times in the report as being a good example of an active organization which protects the interests of national minorities in Lithuania.
Data concerning discrimination at work included in the report comes from interviews given by law experts, works and publications of scientists and active lawyers, as well as activists and NGO workers. Statistical data about this issue is very limited, insufficient, or outdated. Experts and scientists exploring the concept of discrimination interchangeably claim that non-governmental organizations are one of the only voices in this field, because they, above all, inform about human rights, the concept of discrimination, as well as offering help on this matter.
Although not many cases concerning discrimination in the labour market related to ethnic background land in court and relatively few people contact the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman’s Office, authors of the report claim that the main reason for such a situation is the insufficient knowledge of society concerning human rights. The account also includes information about religious background discrimination at work, which is constantly perceived as a taboo subject. For example, as many as 43% of representatives of non-traditional religious creeds in Lithuania have met with some form of workplace discrimination. Moreover, as many as 43% of representatives of ethnic minorities claimed that they experienced discrimination based on their ethnicity in the workplace – mainly difficulties in the promotion process.
Although the Lithuanian Government, in the year 2011, adopted the “Transinstitutional Programme for Discrimination Prevention in the years 2012-2014”, no non-governmental organizations dealing with social and civil matters were invited to contribute to its realization. Also, during the preparation of the strategy of the programme realization no tools to fight labour market discrimination were implemented.
Also included in the report are recommendations for Lithuania in order to rectify the situation. The recommendations are: Lithuania should completely adhere to Directive 2000/43/EC which implements the principle of people’s equal treatment regardless of race and ethnic origin, and Directive2000/78/EC establishing overall framework conditions for equal treatment in the field of employment and work. One of the main consequences of not adjusting to the abovementioned directives is the legal vulnerability hindering activity of human rights associations and organizations (meaning non-recognition of an organization as the subject of court trials) which was also the issue during activities of the foundation. The authors of the report also highlight the urgent need for the implementation of the Act concerning national and ethnic minorities in Lithuania as well as conducting informative campaigns on the subject of labour market discrimination, human rights and freedoms. The situation concerning human rights in the labour market still requires extensive improvements.
Experts at EFHR informed the authors of the report about discriminatory labour advertisements which are monitored by the foundation and sometimes lead to legal action being taken. During recent few years the number of advertisements including discrimination based on sex, nationality, age, or religion decreased significantly. The legal and informative activities of EFHR protecting the rights of Lithuanian citizens on the labor market It is mentioned in the report. The foundation provides free legal advice for injured parties and provides informative brochures concerning labour market discrimination. We also invite everyone to read the article about the report on the website www.manoteises.lt after clicking on the title „Darbo dienos proga skelbiama ataskaita apie tautinių ir religinių mažumų padėtį Lietuvos darbo rinkoje“.