The Czech Public Defender of Rights recommends to the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament adding a paragraph in the Anti-Discrimination Act in case Discrimination by association which means less favourable treatment of a person for the reason that a person related to him/her may be potentially discriminated.
The Defender has encountered discrimination by association in complaints relating to employment and housing issues. While the Defender believes that governmental authorities should take account of European case-law, it is uncertain that they would actually apply the prohibition of discrimination by association to all discrimination grounds and forms of discrimination.
In addition, knowledge and interpretation of European case-law cannot be reasonably required of those who are primarily subject to the Anti-Discrimination Act (individual natural persons and legal entities). Thus, the Defender’s recommendations pursue principally the objective of stipulating and clarifying rights (of employees, consumers) and duties (of employees, sellers).
The Czech Defender’s activities in the area of equal treatment and protection against discrimination in 2014 were characterized by tackling discrimination cases and providing educational support to duty bearers. The Defender found discrimination in seventeen cases. Ten cases involved direct discrimination, four concerned indirect discrimination. One case concerned both direct and indirect discrimination.
In 2014, the Czech Defender received 332 complaints concerning unequal treatment. The Defender addressed 398 complaints concerning discrimination. The most complaints in 2014 concerned discrimination in work and employment (93 complaints) and in public administration (77 complaints).
She found that discrimination indeed occurred in seventeen cases (some of the complaints were delivered in 2012 and 2013). As regards the traditional discrimination grounds, those most frequently invoked included disability (65), age (62) and race and ethnicity (46). A decrease was seen in discrimination on the grounds of gender (30) and a slight increase occurred in complaints based on religion and worldview (19).
Several cases were submitted by victims of discrimination to courts after they had been supported by the Defender’s legal opinion. Even though the courts are yet to decide, this already is a positive change as in the past, victims of discrimination often did not defend themselves.
However, from the perspective of the society as a whole, the developments are only tentative. People still have little awareness of equal treatment issues and they fear that they could be further harmed if their case was heard in court. Further barriers to enforcing anti-discrimination law traditionally include lack of proof, inaccessibility of good legal advice, the length of proceedings and the amount of the court fee for filling an anti-discrimination action. These issues must be addressed from the point of view of the entire system at the level of the legislature and by the executive branch. It is also important to raise awareness in entities on which the anti-discrimination law imposes duties (employers, providers of services and education).