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What can the Equal Treatment Commissioner do in discrimination cases?

The competences, duties and principles of activity of the Commissioner are laid down in Chapter 4 of the Equal Treatment Act (§§ 15–22 of the Equal Treatment Act).

If a person suspects that they have been discriminated against, i.e. treated unequally on the basis of sex (incl. parenting), nationality (ethnicity), colour, religion or beliefs, age, disability, sexual orientation or any other ground for discrimination specified by law, they will receive free legal assistance from the Office of the Equality Commissioner on how the Gender Equality Act and Equal Treatment Act protect them, what the person’s rights are and how they can defend their rights. The Commissioner will also explain where a person can go to defend their rights further.

Within the limits of their competence and possibilities, the Commissioner can also advise and assist people in filing applications and actions to the labour disputes committee and give opinions on possible discrimination (clauses 16 2) and 3) of the Equal Treatment Act).

The purpose of the opinion is to assess whether a person has been treated unequally in the specific situation (subsection 17 (2) of the Equal Treatment Act). Once the Commissioner has given their opinion and found that discrimination has been ascertained, the person can, if they wish to, apply to the labour dispute commission or courts that settle discrimination disputes and can award damages.

In the case of discrimination, the Commissioner can address the violators either verbally or with a memorandum, in which the Commissioner explains the requirements of the Gender Equality Act and Equal Treatment Act, explains which practices are discriminatory and makes proposals to the addressee to bring their practices into compliance with the requirements of law (subsection 16 (1) of the Equal Treatment Act).

If you feel that you’ve been treated unequally, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at avaldus@volinik.ee or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.