Know Your Rights

Prohibition of Countermeasures according to the Act on Equality Between Women and Men and the Non- Discrimination Act

According to Section 8a in the Act on Equality Between Women and Men, no one may be placed in an unfavourable position or treated in such a way that they suffer adverse consequences as a result of making a complaint or taking action to safeguard equality. The actions of an employer shall be deemed to constitute discrimination prohibited under this Act if a person is given notice or otherwise treated less favourably after appealing to a right or obligation laid down in this Act or taking part in investigating a matter concerning gender discrimination.

According to Section 16 of the Non-Discrimination Act, no one may be placed in an unfavourable position or treated in such a way that they suffer adverse consequences as a result of making a complaint or taking action to safeguard equality.

Discrimination prohibited under the Equality Act also includes the so-called countermeasures in working life and the provision of goods and services. These countermeasures constitute a person being placed in a disadvantageous position after invoking the Equality Act or participating in the investigation of a discrimination-related matter. The protection afforded by the prohibition of countermeasures applies to the individual invoking the Equality Act as well as any witnesses and other individuals who have assisted in the matter. The same principle applies to the Non-Discrimination Act.

The prohibition against countermeasures applies to the employer’s actions in working life. The employer must also ensure that other employees do not engage in countermeasures against individuals who have appealed to the Equality Act. Prohibited countermeasures in working life may include, for example, changing work tasks, foregoing a raise, or unfounded increases in work performance supervision and working hours. The employer can still be held liable for compensation over countermeasures even if they are implemented after the termination of the employment relationship.

A person has the right to receive compensation if they have been discriminated against in working life, at an educational institution, in a trade organisation, or regarding the availability and supply of goods and services. The person obliged to pay the compensation is the one who violated the regulation.

The exact compensation amount is determined by the court, taking into account the nature, extent, and duration of the discrimination. The minimum compensation is €3,620. As a general rule, a maximum amouunt of compensation has not been set. However, as an exception, compensation payable to a job applicant may not exceed €18,130 in recruitment situations in which the employer is able to demonstrate that the individual would not have been chosen for the job even if the choice were made on non-discriminatory grounds.

The purpose of determining the compensation amount has been to ensure that the consequences are severe enough to encourage the victim to appeal to their rights, as well as discourage acts of discrimination. The court can reduce the total compensation amount or revoke it completely if seen as reasonable regarding the violator's economic station, other circumstances and any efforts to prevent or eliminate the effects of their conduct.

For example, the employer may reverse the dismissal or arrange a new, equivalent work position for the applicant who was discriminated against.

For more information, please visit:

text Mia Weckman
Director of Advocacy, the finnish union of university researc hers and teachers

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