The Romanian Constitution guarantees the right to equality between citizens. Therefore, equal rights are provided for all citizens regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender, political affiliation, income or social origin.
Regarding labour relations, the principle of equal treatment applies to all employers and employees. In 2020, the Labour Code was updated and amended by Law no. 151/2020, thus introducing several new provisions on equal opportunities at work. As a result, employers who do not comply with the provisions on discrimination in the workplace may be fined between 1,000 and 20,000 lei.
Subsequently, additional amendments were made to the Labour Code by article of LAW no. 151 of 23 July 2020 to amend and supplement Law no. 53/2003, which regard the following:
1. In Article 5, paragraphs (2) to (4) shall be amended as follows:
“(2) Any direct or indirect discrimination against an employee, discrimination by association, harassment or act of victimization, based on the criteria of race, nationality, ethnicity, colour, language, religion, social origin, genetic traits, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, chronic non-contagious disease, HIV infection, political choice, family situation or responsibility, trade union membership or activity, membership of a disadvantaged category, is prohibited.
(3) Any act or fact of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on one or more of the criteria set out in paragraph 1 shall constitute direct discrimination. (2) which has the purpose or effect of denying, restricting or removing the recognition, use or exercise of rights provided for in employment law.
(4) Any provision, action, criterion or apparently neutral practice which has the effect of disadvantaging one person in relation to another on the basis of any of the criteria referred to in paragraph 1 shall constitute indirect discrimination. (2), unless that provision, action, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are proportionate, appropriate and necessary.”
2. In Article 5, five new paragraphs, paragraphs 5 to 9, are inserted after paragraph 4, with the following content:
“(5) Harassment consists of any type of behaviour based on one of the criteria set out in paragraph 1. (2) which has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and which leads to the creation of an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
(6) Discrimination by association shall consist of any act of discrimination against a person who, although not belonging to a category of persons identified according to the criteria set out in paragraph 1, is not a member of that category. (2), is associated or is presumed to be associated with one or more persons falling within such a category.
(7) Victimisation is any adverse treatment in response to a complaint or legal action concerning a breach of the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination.
(8) Any conduct consisting in directing a person, either orally or in writing, to use a form of discrimination which is based on one of the criteria set out in paragraph 1 shall be deemed to be discrimination. (2) against one or more persons shall be deemed to be discrimination.
(9) It shall not constitute discrimination to exclude, single out, restrict or give preference to a particular job where, by reason of the specific nature of the work concerned or of the conditions under which that work is carried out, there are certain essential and determining occupational requirements, provided that the aim is legitimate and the requirements are proportionate.”
3. In Article 59, point (a) is amended as follows:
“(a) on grounds of race, nationality, ethnicity, colour, language, religion, social origin, genetic features, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, chronic non-contagious disease, HIV infection, political choice, family situation or responsibility, trade union membership or activity, membership of a disadvantaged category;”
4. In Article 260, paragraph (1), after letter q) a new letter, letter r), is inserted with the following content:
“r) failure to comply with the provisions of Article 5 para. (2) to (9) and Art. 59 letter a), with a fine from 1,000 lei to 20,000 lei.”
The phenomenon of harassment and discrimination is quite present in Romania in labour relations, but it is not as well known as in other EU member states.
Discrimination in the workplace manifests itself in various forms, starting with the job interview and ending with the dismissal decision. Discrimination can occur:
- In setting and changing working conditions;
- In the establishment of job tasks and responsibilities;
- In setting pay;
- When considering job evaluation for promotion.
- In selection for training and professional development programmes;
Discrimination is considered to be any conduct that consists of asking or ordering someone to discriminate against one or more persons on any of the criteria provided for by law.
At the same time, new forms of discrimination have been identified, including mobbing and bullying. Mobbing is psychological harassment in the workplace, manifested by isolation, complete ignorance, attack on the person, humiliation, discrediting, ridicule, unfounded criticism, etc., as a result of which the psychologically harassed employee will accept unfair, undignified working conditions and pay. Bullying in the workplace is abusive, repetitive and persistent behaviour by a person in a higher position than the victim.
The National Council for Combating Discrimination is responsible for dealing with discrimination in the workplace and can be contacted by anyone who feels discriminated against at work.
For more information visit the website of the National Council for Combating Discrimination: https://www.cncd.ro/
In terms of preventing and dealing with acts of harassment and discrimination in the workplace, companies and state-owned enterprises should consider the following:
- Existence of an internal anti-harassment policy
- Provisions in the Internal Regulations relating to harassment and discrimination
- Procedural elements for analysing a case of harassment
- A procedure for resolving cases of harassment in the workplace
- Information on employees’ rights in relation to harassment and discrimination
- Tools for access to authorities and others
How prepared are you for such a situation?