Promoting equal treatment

Employers, suppliers of goods and services, and educational institutions must not discriminate. In addition to banning discrimination, the law also foresees the obligation to promote equal treatment. This means tha the law obligates, for example, state institutions and employers to take steps to preempt discrimination, and to ensure equal treatment in their fields of activity.

In order to help groups of persons who are in unfavourable situations rise to more equal positions, it is sometimes necessary to create benefits or adjustments. The effort to achieve actual equality is indeed the promotion of equal treatment, or to use the language of lawyers, the use of specific measures. For example, measures need to be implemented in the workplace for the equal treatment of disabled persons so that they could work, take part in training and make a career. The Equal Treatment Act obligates employers to adjust the workplace for disabled persons so that there could even be the equal opportunity for disabled persons to go to work. Equal treatment therefore also includes the principle that persons in unequal situations may be treated differently. The historical inequality between various population groups not only can be equalized, but must be equalized.

The Gender Equality Act and the Equal Treatment Act do indeed obligate employers, educational and research institutions, and state institutions, to reduce the gender inequality still dominant in society, and also to promote equal treatment more widely. This means, for example, that employers are obliged to adjust the work environment and conditions such that they match the special needs resulting from a person’s disability. Educational institutions, however, must plan the organisation of study and teaching so that this does not intensify prejudicial attitudes towards certain population groups, which could lead to unequal treatment.

Since laws and policy decisions often have varying effects on women and men, or on various population groups, such decisions should not be made until the situation of various societal groups has been assessed, and the effect these decisions may have on persons in varied situations has been taken into account. The goal here should be to prevent unequal treatment and to achieve equality.