If you feel that you have been discriminated against in employment, receipt of services, education, or other circumstances that you cannot change, you will be advised and assisted by independent and impartial Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Comissioner and his office. You are not alone with your concern. The institution of the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Comissioner has been established to help people protect their rights and prevent discrimination. Contact us.
What is discrimination?
§ 3. Principle of equal treatment and discrimination
- (2) Direct discrimination is taken to occur where, on grounds of any characteristic specified in subsection 1 (1) of this Act, one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.
- (4) Indirect discrimination is taken to occur where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons, on grounds of any characteristic specified in subsection 1 (1) of this Act, at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
- (6) Discrimination includes also a situation where one person is treated less favourably than others or negative consequences follow because he or she has filed a complaint regarding discrimination or has supported a person who has filed such complaint.
Who do we help?
The Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Comissioner can be contacted by anyone who suspects that he or she has been discriminated against because of his or her gender, nationality, colour, religion, beliefs, age, disability or sexual orientation. The competence of the Commissioner is defined by the Gender Equality Act and the Equal Treatment Act. Therefore, the Commissioner cannot deal with or assist with matters not prescribed by law. For example, if you suspect that you have been discriminated against for other reasons (such as friendship or appearance), the Commissioner cannot help you.
NB: There are many issues where the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Comissioner cannot help, but other institutions can assist you with such problems.
When it is not possible for the Commissioner to assist?
The Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Comissioner cannot assist with any of the following in which case it is necessary to contact the referred institution:
- The Commissioner does not provide an opinion on the existence of discrimination if the proceedings have been initiated or conducted by the Chancellor of Justice, the labour dispute committee or the court. If the Commissioner has already given an opinion on the same matter, new opinion will not be given.
- If you are offended by advertising that uses gender stereotypes or belittles or humiliates one gender, you should contact the Consumer Protection Board (http://www.tarbijakaitseamet.ee/et).
- Anything written in the press and media can be addressed to the Press Council (http://www.eall.ee/pressinoukogu/kuidas_esitada_kaebust.html). The Commissioner does not have the opportunity to discipline a journalist or a columnist who belittles one gender or minority.
- Belittling statements about minorities, women or men, expressed in public debate, in print or elsewhere, can be addressed either to the one who expressed such an opinion or who mediated such an opinion. Freedom of expression and thought are fundamental rights, and the Commissioner does not have the power to criticise people’s views.
When it comes to hate speech (racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic pronouncements), the police must be contacted. The Estonian LGBT Association (http://www.lgbt.ee/) also collects information and clues about hate speech and crime.
- If you have been subjected to sexual violence, you must file a complaint with the police at https://www.politsei.ee/ or call at 112.
- If you are being bullied at the workplace and it is not related to your gender, parenting, nationality, age, disability or other characteristics protected under the Equal Treatment Act, you must first consult a legal adviser at the Labour Inspectorate (http://www.ti.ee/). Labour disputes are settled by the labour dispute committees.
- Divorce, property division, child custody, and payment of maintenance are not within the competence of the Commissioner. Such disputes are settled in civil court (http://www.kohus.ee/).
MTÜ Lastekaitse Liit [NGO Estonian Union for Child Welfare] (http://www.lastekaitseliit.ee/vajad-abi/) in cooperation with the Estonian Bar Association provides advice on matters concerning family law. Advice can be obtained by pre-registering at 631 1128.
- Complaints about domestic violence must definitely be referred to the police (https://www.politsei.ee/). Psychological assistance is available from victim support (http://www.ohvriabi.ee/).
- If a person with reduced mobility does not have access to a public facility or building, the city or rural municipality government or the Technical Regulatory Authority (http://www.tja.ee/) must be contacted.
- If you find that an official, a legal person governed by private law or a public authority acting in an official capacity violates your constitutional freedoms or rights, treats you in violation of law or good administration (such as being rude, unfair, delaying or not responding, providing incomplete information, or providing false information), you can file an application with the Chancellor of Justice (http://oiguskantsler.ee/) to control the activities of the public authority or an official.
- Prisoners can defend their rights in the context of challenge procedures http://www.vangla.ee/49628. If a decision or act made by a prison staff member is challenged, the prison authorities must be contacted. If a decision or act has been made or not made by the prison director, the Ministry of Justice must be contacted. Only after the challenge proceedings have been completed, the prisoner has the right to go to administrative court.
However, the Commissioner for Equal Opportunities can help you with the issues you can find here. Reference to the question “Who do we help?”
Do I have evidence and how can I obtain evidence myself?
Evidence may include statements by a party to the proceedings, documentary evidence, physical evidence, on-the-spot inspection, witness testimony, and expert opinion.
The explanation is the written answer to the question why and how the specific event that discriminated against you took place.
Documentary evidence is evidence in written form, which can be reproduced in photographic, audio or video format, and its content is material to the proof.
Physical evidence is an object or thing used in the proceedings to prove discrimination.
Expert judgment is a conclusion made by a person competent in the corresponding field and substantiated in the expert report in connection with the relevant fact.
Can I remain anonymous?
People who contact the Commissioner remain anonymous. The register of documents of the Commissioner’s office is for internal use only and your information is used as sensitive personal data only for the purposes of processing your application. If we want to disclose your information in a case of discrimination, we will ask for your permission each time.
You have the right to refuse to disclose your information. Whenever we advise you to contact another public authority or organisation, we will ask for your permission in each case.