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calendar 6 June 2024
globus Norway

A job applicant claimed she was discriminated against based on ethnicity. She was from a ‘high-risk country’ which necessitated an extra background check. The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found that the job applicant had been discriminated against, as citizenship was included in the concept of ethnicity in this case.

A bank used of a temporary work agency to find 20 agency workers in connection with holidays. A job applicant applied for the temporary position with the agency and was asked whether she was or had been a citizen of Russia, China, Syria, Iraq or Iran.

When the job applicant confirmed that she had both Norwegian and Russian citizenship, she was told that she was no longer part of the recruitment process. The reason given by the agency was that an extended background check was required when she had dual citizenship from a high-risk country. Such background checks were extensive and took about seven or eight weeks and were, therefore, not done for temporary positions. In addition, the agency did not have the expertise or capacity to carry out such checks.

Enough is not enough

The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal concluded that the job applicant had been discriminated against based on ethnicity because her citizenship put her at a disadvantage compared to others.

The agency's reasoning that such a background check would be resource- and time-consuming was valid, given that it was a short-term temporary position. However, the Tribunal placed decisive emphasis on the fact that when the agency received the application, it had more than two months to carry out such a background check. The agency had not sufficiently demonstrated that it had no alternative courses of action. The job applicant was therefore entitled to compensation.

IUNO’s opinion

This case examines the concept of ethnicity. Citizenship is not protected against discrimination, but the Tribunal found that as the background check requirement only applied to a few countries, it had to fall under the concept of ethnicity.

Although citizenship in itself does not constitute a basis for discrimination, IUNO recommends that companies are careful with differential treatment. Such differential treatment can easily fall under indirect discrimination based on ethnicity.  

[Diskrimineringsnemndas avgjørelse av 22. april 2024 i sak 23/535]

A bank used of a temporary work agency to find 20 agency workers in connection with holidays. A job applicant applied for the temporary position with the agency and was asked whether she was or had been a citizen of Russia, China, Syria, Iraq or Iran.

When the job applicant confirmed that she had both Norwegian and Russian citizenship, she was told that she was no longer part of the recruitment process. The reason given by the agency was that an extended background check was required when she had dual citizenship from a high-risk country. Such background checks were extensive and took about seven or eight weeks and were, therefore, not done for temporary positions. In addition, the agency did not have the expertise or capacity to carry out such checks.

Enough is not enough

The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal concluded that the job applicant had been discriminated against based on ethnicity because her citizenship put her at a disadvantage compared to others.

The agency's reasoning that such a background check would be resource- and time-consuming was valid, given that it was a short-term temporary position. However, the Tribunal placed decisive emphasis on the fact that when the agency received the application, it had more than two months to carry out such a background check. The agency had not sufficiently demonstrated that it had no alternative courses of action. The job applicant was therefore entitled to compensation.

IUNO’s opinion

This case examines the concept of ethnicity. Citizenship is not protected against discrimination, but the Tribunal found that as the background check requirement only applied to a few countries, it had to fall under the concept of ethnicity.

Although citizenship in itself does not constitute a basis for discrimination, IUNO recommends that companies are careful with differential treatment. Such differential treatment can easily fall under indirect discrimination based on ethnicity.  

[Diskrimineringsnemndas avgjørelse av 22. april 2024 i sak 23/535]

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