The employer must not ask the candidate about his or her religious or other beliefs, as the candidate may not be required to provide information that does not concern the suitability of the person for the job. Likewise, a person’s beliefs do not indicate how successful a candidate is in the job.
Freedom of belief is under a special protection under põhiseadus and it has been established that everyone’s right to respect for family and private life also includes the protection of religion and other beliefs.
Võrdse kohtlemise seadus prohibits ill-treatment at work because of a person’s religion or beliefs. One cannot choose people to work on the basis of whether or not they are religious, for example, preferring an atheist to a teaching position. The belief that a person with well-established religious beliefs wants to spread his or her religion and impose it on others can lead to discrimination. Therefore, an evaluation based on such stereotype should be avoided.
In exceptional cases, preference for employment of a person of a particular religion shall not be deemed to be discrimination if it results from a professional requirement. In the event of professional activities carried out in organisations based on religion or belief, preference to the workplace of persons of similar beliefs shall not be deemed to be discrimination.
While in a political, religious or philosophical organisation, the job of a particular position is closely linked to certain beliefs, the employer may ask questions of religious or other beliefs from the person seeking the position. For example, it is permissible to ask a candidate for a Lutheran Church Sunday School teacher of about his or her religious beliefs and church membership. Likewise, an organisation dedicated to the ethical treatment of animals may set a person’s worldview as a criterion in its recruitment of a communications specialist, which must be consistent with the organisation’s approach to treating animals.
However, exceptions apply only to positions where the content of the job requires a certain degree of belief. If the same organisation chooses an employee for a job where the nature of the job does not require a particular religion or belief, such as a repairman, an accountant or a janitor, the principle of equal treatment must be followed when recruiting.
If you did not find an answer to your concern, you may contact the Estonian Commissioner for Gender Equality and Equal Treatment in a free format by sending an email to email@example.com. When contacting the Commissioner, the identity of the person shall not be disclosed and, upon request, anonymity shall be guaranteed.