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What is not discrimination based on religion?

In the case of occupational activities carried out in organisations with an ethos based on a religion or belief, it’s not considered discriminatory when preference is given to persons with similar beliefs for a job where the person’s religion or belief is an occupational requirement arising from the general moral character of the organisation. For example, holding a clerical position requires the person to belong to the respective religion (e.g. Catholic, Lutheran).

If the work of a certain position in political, religious, ideological, etc. organisations is closely related to certain beliefs, the employer may ask the persons applying for the job about their religious or other beliefs. For instance, it’s permitted to ask an applicant for the position of a Sunday school teacher of the Lutheran church about his or her religious beliefs and membership of a congregation. Similarly, an organisation that stands for the ethical treatment of animals can consider the person’s worldview as a recruitment criterion, stating that it must correspond to the opinions of the organisation on the treatment of animals.

Exceptions may be made only for positions where the content of the job requires a firm conviction. If the same organisation is looking to fill a position where the nature of the job does not require certain religious or other beliefs, e.g. a renovation worker, accountant or cleaner, the principle of equal treatment must be observed in recruitment.

For example, it’s not discrimination if a company requires its employees to work evenings on Fridays because the time difference means that this is the only time when the company can analyse US stock market data, which is essential for the company’s operations. If this means that an employee will miss a service related to his or her religion, it cannot be considered discrimination on the basis of religion.

Read more in the Equal Treatment Act Manual

LINK: https://www.digar.ee/arhiiv/nlib-digar:121640


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.