Discrimination & harassment
Discrimination based on the following protected characteristics is prohibited: race, color, gender, ethnic origin, marital status, origin or social rank, religious beliefs, political opinion, union affiliation and language.
The law prohibits discriminatory acts or omissions based on race, religion, nationality, ideology, political or trade union opinion, sex, age, economic position, social condition or physical characteristics.
In addition, Argentina has ratified international antidiscrimination conventions, such as the Convention of Belem do Pará and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The characteristics protected under equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation in the various states and territories of Australia, as well as under federal legislation, vary slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The protected characteristics common to all jurisdictions are race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital or relationship status, family or carer's responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction, social origin, gender identity, intersex status or trade union membership.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
The Labor Law prohibits discrimination between workers and in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, ethnic origin, language, religion or belief. Further, dismissals on the basis of sex, color, religion, belief, social status, family responsibilities, a female worker's pregnancy, childbirth or nursing an infant shall be deemed automatically unfair.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment: age, disability, gender, marital status, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, political conviction, physical or genetic characteristics, language, current or future health and affiliation to trade union.
Characteristics protected by statute from unlawful discrimination are gender, origin, race, color, marital status, family situation, age, pregnancy, religion and disability. Case law has also protected individuals of various sexual orientations and gender identities as well as individuals with severe illnesses from discriminatory termination.
All Canadian jurisdictions have legislation which prohibits harassment and discrimination based on a number of grounds. Protected grounds vary by jurisdiction, but generally include race, religion, age, disability, sex, gender identity and gender expression, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, record of (criminal) offenses, marital status and family status. Employees who suffer harassment or discrimination may have a civil cause of action and/or access to a specialized tribunal or commission.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination include race, color, sex, maternity, breastfeeding, age, marital status, union membership, religion, political opinion, citizenship, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language, beliefs, participation in professional trade associations, sexual orientation, gender identity, family situation, personal appearance, illness, disability and social origin.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment include communicable disease status, disability, migrant worker status, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion or belief and sex.
The Civil Code sets out a clear definition of sexual harassment. This includes widening the scope to protect female employees, requiring employers to provide an internal mechanism for employees to lodge complaints, providing a mechanism for employees to lodge complaints with relevant government agencies and requiring employers to take reasonable efforts to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
Moreover, an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests (the Revised Women Protection Law) came into effect on January 1,2023, covering all aspects of women protection, including employment, succession, marriage, family, property and healthcare. Employers face new obligations related to the prevention of discrimination and harassment, as well as the investigation and handling of relevant complaints. The Revised Women Protection Law requires employers to incorporate provisions on protection of rights and interests of female employees in their individual employment contracts, policies and collective contracts (if applicable).
Employers may not discriminate against employees or job candidates on the basis of age, ethnic origin/race, gender, citizenship, disability, health conditions, religion, opinions, sexual orientation, marital status, union membership, or any other criteria.
Direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment, victimization, incitement of discrimination and instruction to discriminate are prohibited. Employers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for persons with disabilities.
Protected characteristics include race, ethnic origin, nationality, sex (including pregnancy, maternity, paternity and sexual identification), sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, belief and worldviews.
Danish legislation prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination, and victimization and harassment, on various grounds, including age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity/paternity, race, nationality, religion or belief, and sex or sexual orientation.
Employers may take positive action in the form of differential treatment if an employee with a disability is employed. In that case, the employer is obliged to take adequate measures to address the person's disadvantage in order for the person to overcome that disadvantage and function on an equal basis with other employees.
All employees have the right to equal treatment. Employers must not discriminate on the basis of gender, descent, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion, age, health, disability, political activity, trade union activity or related reasons. The provisions are set out in the Equality Act and the Non-Discrimination Act. All employees, including applicants, are protected against discrimination.
Protected characteristics include origin; sex; customs; sexual orientation; age; family situation; pregnancy; genetic characteristics; affiliation or non-affiliation, whether actual or assumed, to an ethnic group, a nation or a (perceived) race; political opinions; activities linked to a union or a mutual benefit company; religious beliefs; physical appearance; family name; health; disability and loss of independence; ability to speak another language than French; place of residence and location or domicile of bank account; and vulnerability resulting from an obvious or known economic situation.
Statutory protection exists against unlawful discrimination and harassment based on race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Hong Kong, SAR
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination, victimization and harassment include sex, pregnancy, breastfeeding, marital status, family status (ie, responsibility for the care of an immediate family member), disability, race and union affiliation.
Direct and indirect discrimination, victimization, unlawful segregation and harassment are prohibited.
Employers are forbidden from discriminating against employees on grounds of sex, race, color, nationality, national or ethnic origin, mother tongue, disability, health status, religion or belief, political or other opinion, marital status, sexual orientation, age or any other circumstances which are not connected to work.
The principle of equal treatment is not violated if the differences applied are based on a difference in the nature, the quality or the quantity of the work, a difference in working conditions, required training, experience or responsibility or based on differences in the labor market conditions.
The right to equality is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution, and state institutions are expressly prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex, caste, religion, race and place of birth. Various protections are applicable to individuals in the private sector, including disabled persons, female job applicants, HIV positive persons (or those who live with or have lived with a person who is HIV positive), transgender persons and workmen.
The ERA governs equal remuneration and service conditions for males and females for the same work or work of a similar nature and requires the employer to maintain certain registers with wage information.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (SH Act) protects and provides a means of redress for women who suffer from sexual harassment at work. The SH Act has wide application because its definition of 'workplace' covers both public and private establishments and regular, ad-hoc or temporary employees, either employed directly or through an agent. The SH Act requires all offices, hospitals, institutions and other workplaces to have an internal mechanism for addressing complaints related to sexual harassment, including providing for settlement by way of conciliation. The employer must have an internal complaints committee (IC) to investigate complaints, hold an inquiry and submit a report. The District Officer may establish a local complaints committee for establishments that do not have internal complaints committees due to employing less than 10 workers, or when the complaint is against the employer. Employers with 10 or more employees are also required to formulate an internal policy for the prohibition, prevention and redressal of sexual harassment in the workplace and to provide awareness and conduct training programs for IC members. The IC must submit an annual report in each calendar year to the relevant District Officer.
The employer is also prohibited from committing any unfair trade practices listed in the ID Act, including discriminating against workmen.
The RPWD Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s disability, unless proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim. Under the RPWD Act, an employer must ensure that a person is not denied a promotion merely on the ground of their disability. It also requires all employers to notify and publish an equal opportunity policy with details of facilities and amenities provided to persons with disabilities to enable them to effectively discharge their duties in the establishment.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 (HIV Act) prohibits discrimination against a person who is HIV-positive or a person who lives with or has lived with a person who is HIV-positive in matters related to employment, including denial of or termination of employment.
The TPR Act prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in employment matters, including recruitment and promotion. Further, the TPR Act requires every establishment to designate a person to be a complaint officer to handle complaints in relation to the TPR Act.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination include sex, ethnicity, race, religion and political orientation.
No regulated protection from harassment for employees. Employees who wish to take action against sexual harassment in the workplace may file a claim on the basis of the civil tort law, or the employee may file a criminal report against the party who committed the criminal offense.
Direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimization and harassment are prohibited. Employers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for persons with disabilities.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment include gender, age, race/nationality, religion, family status, civil status, disability, sexual orientation and/or membership of the Traveller community.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment: age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, religious belief, nationality, country of origin, place of residency, opinion, political party, participation in military service (including military reserve duty), and matrimonial and parental status.
Employees are protected against direct and indirect discrimination during the course of their employment on several grounds, such as sex, religion, race, color and political opinion. Discrimination is always prohibited, from the hiring procedure to the termination of employment.
Japan's labor law recognizes the principle of equal treatment of employees. Discriminatory treatment with respect to wages, working hours or other working conditions by reason of nationality, creed or social status is prohibited.
This includes a prohibition against discrimination with respect to dismissal, fringe benefits, pay and all other aspects of the working relationship between employer and employee.
For instance, the Law Respecting the Guarantee of Equal Opportunity and Treatment Between Men and Women in Employment prohibits discrimination regarding gender in recruitment, hiring and employment in Japan.
Direct and indirect discrimination prohibited, along with victimization and harassment. It is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, color, tribe, sex, language, religion, political opinion or affiliation, nationality, social origin, marital status, pregnancy, HIV status or disability.
Disability discrimination. A person with special needs is defined under the Kuwaiti Handicapped Law as "any person suffering from total or partial deficiency or disorder; permanently or temporarily in his physical, sensory, mental, communicative, educational or psychological abilities to an extent reducing the possibility of meeting his normal requirements."
Only Kuwaiti nationals with special needs have the right to work and occupy positions.
Flexible working hours and suitable equipment in order to perform their work must be provided to these employees, and these employees must not face any discrimination.
There are no other discrimination provisions in the Labor Law, except for a provision stating that a female employee shall have the right to the same salary given to a male employee if she performs the same job.
Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation, nationality, racial or ethnic origin and sex is prohibited with regard to access to employment, access to all types and levels of vocational guidance, employment and working conditions, and membership of and involvement in an organization of workers or employers.
There is no statutory protection against discrimination. However, the EA gives the Director General the power to “inquire into and decide any dispute between an employee and his employer in respect of any matter relating to discrimination in employment [and] make an order”. Non-compliance by an employer with such an order would be an offense.
Employers may not discriminate against employees or job candidates on the basis of age, ethnic origin, race, sex, citizenship, disabilities, health conditions, religion, opinions, sexual orientation, marital status or any other criteria.
Discrimination based on race, skin color, gender, religion, political opinions, social origin or union freedom is forbidden by article 9 of the Labor Code.
Discrimination between men and women regarding wages is specifically prohibited by article 346 of the Labor Code.
All employees are guaranteed equal rights at work, regardless of their ethnic origin, language, race, gender, marital status, age (within the limits set by law), social condition, religious and political ideas and membership or non-membership in a union.
Measures that benefit certain disadvantaged groups – namely, measures based on gender, impaired work capacity, disability or chronic disease – taken for the purpose of guaranteeing the exercise of the rights set forth in this law on an equal footing, and to correct a persistent factual situation of inequality in social life, shall not be considered discriminatory.
Female employees shall be respected and any act performed in violation of their dignity shall be punished by law. Employees who commit acts which violate the dignity of a female employee shall be subject to disciplinary proceedings. Employers are forbidden from dismissing, imposing sanctions or otherwise causing prejudice to a female employee on the basis of allegations of discrimination or exclusion.
Harassment, including sexual harassment, whether committed in or outside of the workplace, which interferes with the security of employment or with the professional progress of the employee, constitutes a disciplinary offense.
Employers shall promote measures that allow employees with disabilities to enjoy the same rights and have the same responsibilities as other employees. Instruments of collective labor regulation may establish special measures to protect disabled employees. There are no specific regulations on this matter, but, as a matter of practice, employers may, for instance, refurbish the workplace entrance to allow easy access for employees in wheelchairs.
Employees with HIV-AIDS may not be discriminated against.
The employer shall not discriminate or fail to honor employment rights equally on the grounds of the employee being a member of a labor organization, nationality, religion, race, sex and age.
Employees are entitled to the prescribed minimum wage without discrimination on the basis of gender.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Employees are protected from discrimination and harassment under both the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1993. Protected characteristics are age (from 16 years), color, disability, employment status, family status, marital status, political opinion, race, ethnic or national origins, religious or ethical belief, sex, sexual orientation and union involvement. An employer also cannot discriminate against an employee on the basis that the employee is, or is believed to be, an individual who has experienced domestic violence.
The Nigerian Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender, religion, age, political affinity, ethnic/tribal group and membership of a trade union and other lawful associations.
Both direct and indirect discrimination is prohibited with regard to all aspects of the employment relationship.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination: political views, membership of a trade union, sexual orientation, disability, gender, age, ethnic origin, national origin, descent, color, language, religion, ethical and cultural orientation, part-time work and temporary employment.
Employees and applicants with disabilities are entitled to appropriate individual adaption of their workplace and tasks.
There are no specific discrimination laws in Oman, save for 2 provisions in the Labor Law relating to non-discrimination of women employed in similar situations to men and preference for employment of Omani nationals. The Basic Law and Penal Code prohibit abuse or harassment on the grounds of gender, origin, color, language, religion, sect, domicile and social status.
The Peruvian Constitution prohibits discrimination based on racial, sexual, political or religious grounds, or age or physical disability, among others.
The labor law forbids discrimination in recruitment.
Companies cannot dismiss based on discriminatory reasons. In such case, the dismissal is considered null, and the employee can sue for re-instatement.
During the employment relationship, if the company carries out discriminatory acts, this may be considered to be “hostility” against the employee. If the company continues with such discrimination, the employee may claim constructive dismissal due to discrimination.
Recently, local law has prohibited salary discrimination between men and women.
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any woman employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on account of her sex. (Labor Code of the Philippines, Art. 135)
The Labor Code of the Philippines likewise considers it unlawful for an employer to require, as a condition for or continuation of employment, a woman employee to not get married or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that, upon marriage, a woman employee shall be deemed resigned or separated. (Labor Code of the Philippines, Art. 136)
Sexual harassment is also prohibited. (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995)
Against persons with disability
No persons with disabilities shall be denied access to opportunities for suitable employment. A qualified employee with disabilities shall be subject to the same terms and conditions of employment and the same compensation, privileges, benefits, fringe benefits, incentives or allowances as a qualified able-bodied person. (Republic Act No. 2010911)
Based on age
It is unlawful for an employer to do any of the following:
- Print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, in any form of media, any notice of advertisement relating to employment suggesting preferences, limitations, specifications and discrimination based on age
- Require the declaration of age or birthdate during the application process
- Decline any employment application because of the individual's age
- Discriminate against an individual in terms of compensation, terms and conditions or privileges of employment on account of age
- Deny promotion or opportunity for training because of age
- Forcibly lay off an employee or worker because of old age
- Impose early retirement on the basis of age (Section 5 (a) of Republic Act No. 10911)
Polish law expressly prohibits any kind of discrimination or harassment, guarantees basic equality in the workplace, and protects the health and dignity of employees. Provisions of employment contracts that infringe upon the principle of equal treatment are null and void, and the statutory provisions apply instead. Where there are no appropriate regulations, the infringing provisions should be replaced with appropriate provisions.
Polish law prohibits various types of discrimination and harassment, including direct and indirect discrimination; unfair treatment of an employee by an employer because of a particular action the employee has taken (eg, submitting a sexual harassment grievance); sexual harassment; harassment in the form of any unwanted conduct, the purpose or effect of which is to violate a person's dignity, particularly by the creation of an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive atmosphere at work; and bullying.
An anti-retaliatory provision applies to employees who exercise their rights when an employer infringes the principle of equal treatment in employment or to employees who have in any way supported another employee in exercising his or her rights where an employer has infringed the principle of equal treatment.
Polish law also guarantees the right to equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. However, there is no system of obligatory monitoring of pay levels (eg, for men and women).
Characteristics protected: ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital status, family status, economic status, education, social origin or status, genetic heritage, reduced working capacity, disability, chronic disease, nationality, ethnic origin or race, territory origin, language, religion, political or ideological beliefs, union membership and maternity.
Portugal also has specific pay-equity legislation.
Companies employing 75 or more employees, both in the private and public sectors, are required to hire employees with a degree of disability of 60 percent or more, in order to ensure minimum quotas – between 1 percent to 2 percent depending on the company’s headcount.
There are no discrimination laws in Qatar except for provisions which state that a woman must be paid the same as a man if she performs the same work and must be provided with the same opportunities with regards to training and promotion. The topic of discrimination is however addressed in Qatar's Constitution which prohibits discrimination on numerous grounds. Qatar is a signatory to (and ratified) a number of international conventions relating to human rights and discrimination. Qatar has also set up a number of human rights committees that in turn ultimately ensure that individuals are treated fairly and on equal footing and are not discriminated against.
Direct and indirect discrimination is prohibited, along with victimization and harassment, including sexual harassment, psychological harassment and moral harassment. Employers have an obligation to include provisions prohibiting discrimination in their internal regulations, as well as corresponding disciplinary sanctions.
The main characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment include race, nationality, ethnic background, language, religion, social category, beliefs, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation, among others.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment include age, place of residence, disability, gender reassignment, family status, wealth, occupation, pregnancy or maternity, race, nationality, language, origin, religion or belief, gender and sexual orientation, among others.
Generally, there may be no discrimination in terms and conditions of employment (eg, as to leaves or EOSG). However, aside from the new rules below, there are few specific anti-discrimination or harassment laws. Some of the terms of the Labor Law are specific to expatriates. Provisions concerning foreign recruitment, repatriation and related matters do not apply to Saudi nationals. There are also some specific rules for female employees.
In June 2018, new anti-harassment laws took effect and provide that each private or public sector employer is required to take appropriate measures to prevent harassment in the workplace. This requires employers to follow certain procedures as stated in the law (ie, to have clear guidance and processes related to harassment complaints, and to have disciplinary procedures for harassment complaints, to confirm their validity and ensure their confidentiality).
Further, employers are required to investigate any breaches of their anti-harassment policies and the anti-harassment law, and they must not interfere with the affected employee's right to raise a complaint to the authorities regarding harassment. While the law is silent on how to publish these procedures and policies, employers must ensure their employees are aware of the relevant information.
Singapore does not currently have any legislation which expressly prohibits workplace discrimination. While the Constitution provides that all persons are entitled to the equal protection of the law and that there shall be no discrimination based on religion, race, descent or place of birth, successful challenges on constitutional grounds are rare.
In 2021, the Singapore government announced that it plans to introduce workplace discrimination legislation by enshrining into law some or all of the principles currently contained in the TGFEP. In 2023, a government committee issued an interim report containing a series of recommendations for what the new legislation should cover. However, a draft bill has not yet been published.
The Protection from Harassment Act 2014 (POHA) also protects individuals from acts of harassment both in and outside the workplace (including stalking and cyber-bullying). Certain sections of the Penal Code also provide for criminal offences that would cover behaviour amounting to harassment.
The main type of employment legislation that deals with the issue of discrimination concerns age discrimination. The Retirement and Re-employment Act (RRA) applies to all employees and prohibits the dismissal of any employee who is below the current retirement age of 63 on the grounds of age, notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary. Employees have a statutory right to be offered re-employment between the age of 63 (or the age stipulated in the employment contract, if higher) and 68 provided they have satisfactory work performance and are medically fit to continue working. If the employee meets the criteria, the employer must offer the employee re-employment unless it is unable to find a suitable vacancy through redeployment to another part of the business – and in which case the employee has a right to receive an employment assistance payment (see further comments under the Severance section below).
In addition, pregnant employees under the EA may not be dismissed solely for being absent from work in accordance with the maternity leave provisions set out in the EA or in the CDCSA, although this is not characterized as discrimination per se.
The Enlistment Act 1970 (Enlistment Act) generally prohibits employers from dismissing employees solely or mainly by reason of being called up for national service.
The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP), issued by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP), are a set of best practice guidelines that encourage fair treatment of employees. If an individual encounters workplace discrimination in breach of the TGFEP, they may contact TAFEP, which may first engage informally with the employer to assess if the complaint is meritorious. The TAFEP may refer cases to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) where the employer is recalcitrant or unresponsive, and the MOM may impose certain administrative sanctions against errant employers (eg, curtailing work pass applications and privileges).
The TAFEP has also introduced the FCF to specifically target discrimination against locals. Under the FCF, employers submitting Employment Pass and S Pass applications must first advertise on MyCareersFuture and fairly consider all candidates unless the candidate qualifies for a relevant exemption. Further, the MOM proactively identifies employers with indications of discriminatory hiring practices and places them on the FCF Watchlist for further scrutiny. The MOM is additionally concerned about employers with an exceptionally high percentage of foreign PMETs compared to industry peers, or high concentrations of single nationalities, as these are indicators of possible discriminatory hiring practices.
Direct and indirect unlawful discrimination and harassment is prohibited on grounds of sex, marital status and family status, sexual orientation, race, skin color, language, age, adverse health condition or disability, genetic characteristics, belief, religion, political or other views, trade union activity, national or social origin, nationality or ethnicity, property, gender or any other status or due to the reporting of crime or other antisocial activity (ie, whistleblowers).
Direct and indirect unfair discrimination is prohibited in terms of the Employment Equity Act, 1998. No person may be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of any listed ground or other arbitrary ground. The listed grounds are race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, birth and any other arbitrary ground. Sexual harassment and unequal pay for work of equal value on prohibited grounds are given express protection as forms of unfair discrimination.
Where an employer is a designated employer (ie, employs more than 50 employees or has an annual turnover in excess of the prescribed threshold), they are obliged to put into place affirmative action measures to ensure that suitably qualified people from designated groups (ie, African, Coloured, Indian, women and people with disabilities) have equal employment opportunities and are equitably represented in all occupational levels in the workforce. There are amendments in the pipeline in terms of which a ‘designated employer’ will only be an employer that employs more than 50 employees and the annual turnover threshold will no longer be relevant. This amendment is anticipated to come into effect in about October 2023.
The LSA prohibits discrimination against employees on the grounds of sex, nationality, religion or social status. Discrimination is also prohibited under statutes protecting disabled employees, female employees, foreign workers and non-regular workers. Age discrimination is also prohibited.
Employers, managers and employees are prohibited from sexually harassing anybody in the workplace. Whether or not an act or acts constitute sexual harassment is determined based on the complainer’s viewpoint (ie, based on how the average person in the complainer’s position would view the conduct), regardless of the intent or perception of the alleged harasser. It is also prohibited to retaliate against an employee who is the victim or employee who reports workplace harassment.
The “Guidance on Review of Rules of Employment Regarding Workplace Harassment” issued by the MOEL went into effect as of July 16, 2019. As a result, the rules of employment must include the definition of workplace harassment and provisions prohibiting workplace harassment, and failure to do so will result in “amendment orders” from the MOEL.
While the details of workplace harassment are stated in the LSA, as of October 14, 2021, if an employer or certain members of his/her family engages in workplace harassment, an administrative fine not exceeding KRW10 million may be imposed. Moreover, in addition to the employer’s obligation to conduct a prompt investigation and take necessary measures, the law imposes a confidentiality obligation on parties involved in the workplace harassment investigation. Violations of these obligations may result in an administrative fine of up to KRW5 million.
Serious Accident Prevention Act (SAPA)
The SAPA, effective as of January 27, 2022 for businesses with 50 or more employees, works to secure the safety and health of workers in the workplace or general public by holding the top decision maker of the business accountable for “serious accidents.”
The responsibilities of employers and responsible management personnel under the SAPA include establishing a safety and health management system that covers workforce and budgetary issues, implementing necessary plans to prevent recurrence of serious accidents and taking necessary measures to ensure compliance with relevant safety- and health-related laws.
The following characteristics are protected: age, disability, ethnic origin, gender reassignment, gender identity or expression, health condition, marriage or civil status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation or identity, political ideas, union membership, family relationships with coworkers, language, socioeconomic status, and any other personal or social condition or circumstance that could cause discrimination.
Discrimination cases are not frequent in Spain, with the exception of trade union-related issues or discrimination based on family-related rights (ie, maternity and paternity). However, on July 13, 2022, the Spanish Official Gazette published Law 15/2022 on equal treatment and non-discrimination (effective from July 14, 2022). The Law, which aims to promote the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination and to respect the equality and dignity of individuals in accordance with the Spanish Constitution, protects against discriminatory dismissals and other causes for termination of the employment contract. New court resolutions declaring unlawful discriminatory terminations null and void are expected.
Royal Decree 901/2020 regulates the way equality plans are to be produced, registered and accessed. All companies, regardless of the number of workers, must adopt, after negotiation, measures aimed at avoiding discrimination between women and men, promoting working conditions that avoid sexual harassment and harassment on the grounds of sex, and providing procedures for the prevention of discrimination and creating channels for complaints and claims.
All companies with 50 or more employees are obliged to implement an Equality Plan. Companies with between 50 and 100 employees have a deadline of March 7, 2022. Companies with over 100 employees must have implemented the Equality Plan by March 7, 2021.
In addition, Royal Decree 902/2020 establishes specific measures to reinforce the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination between women and men in relation to remuneration. This regulation establishes a principle of transparency in remuneration to enable direct and indirect discrimination to be identified. In particular where discrimination arises when individuals do not receive equal pay for work of equal value, unless the difference can be lawfully justified. This will require steps from employers in the following areas: remuneration records, a remuneration audit or a job evaluation system of the professional classification.
The Discrimination Act covers discrimination on the grounds of sex, ethnic origin, religious or other belief, disability, sexual orientation, age and transgender identity or expression. The Discrimination Act contains provisions on active measures, supervision and invalidity of discriminatory provisions in individual and collective bargaining agreements, entitlement to compensation and legal proceedings. The employer is required to take positive action to promote equal rights and opportunities irrespective of any of the protected characteristics.
Gender discrimination is directly prohibited. Other kinds of unjustified discrimination are indirectly prohibited (ie, only if the employee is able to prove that the discrimination has led to a violation of their personality – that is, when they have suffered painfully worse treatment than other employees, without any objective reason).
Taiwan, Republic of China
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment include age, disability, class, thought, facial features, language, gender reassignment, marital status, political party, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. With the recent implementation of the Middle-aged and Elderly Employment Promotion Act, persons aged 45 to 65 and those above 65 are afforded more protection from age discrimination and provided with more employment stability, and the employment of these persons will be promoted, which will create more job opportunities for the middle-aged and elderly. Employers who are found to discriminate on the basis of age will be fined.
The Thai Constitution prohibits discrimination and the unequal treatment of employees. All persons are equal and shall enjoy equal protection under the law. Unjust discrimination against a person on the grounds of origin, race, language, sex, age, physical or health condition, personal status, economic or social standing, religious belief, education or political views which do not contradict the Thai Constitution, or on other grounds, is not permitted.
The LPA also provides for equality in the workplace for employees and requires an employer to treat male and female employees equally in their employment, unless the nature of the work or working conditions does not allow the employer to do so.
An employer must also set equal wages, overtime pay, holiday pay and holiday overtime pay to be paid to employees whose work is of the same nature and quality and equal quantity or same value, notwithstanding whether the employees are male or female.
The Thai Labor Standards Corporate Social Responsibility of Thai Business, as launched by the Ministry of Labor, specifically prohibits discrimination in employment on grounds of national origin, race, religion, language, age, sex, marital status, personal attitude on gender or sexual orientation, invalidity, HIV/AIDS status, trade union membership, employees' committee membership, political affiliation or other personal opinions.
Article 5bis of the Labor Code prohibits discrimination between men and women in the application of the Code. In 2017, Tunisia also passed a law countering violence against women that includes economic discrimination in the form of violence against women. Tunisia is also a party to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women as well as its optional protocol.
Tunisia has laws that forbid employment discrimination on the basis of disability, provided that the disabled person is qualified for the job and provided that the job does not require specific physical abilities. There are also quotas for hiring disabled persons in the public sector and in large companies. Tunisia is also a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.
Most recently, Tunisia adopted a law countering all forms of racial discrimination.
No discrimination based on language, race, color, sex, disability, political opinion, philosophical opinion, religion or similar reasons, union membership or non-membership, or maternity is permissible. Furthermore, the employer cannot treat part-time and full-time employees differently unless the difference in treatment can be objectively justified by there being a material reason.
Statutory protection against unlawful discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, HIV status or disability.
An employer shall pay male and female employees equal remuneration for work of equal value.
Discrimination based on any ground unrelated to ability to perform job duties is prohibited. Prohibited grounds include, for example, race, ethnic or social origin, political, religious or other beliefs, skin color, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, family and property status, membership in a trade union or other civil group, participation in a strike, language attributes or age.
United Arab Emirates
Since August 2015, legislation has been in force that was primarily designed to combat religious contempt and intolerance. Under the new Labor Law, discrimination is defined as any distinction, restriction, exclusion or preference on the basis of one of the protected characteristics (religion, creed, doctrine, sect, caste, race, color or ethnic origin). This new discrimination law does not remove discriminatory provisions in existing law, such as positive discrimination in favor of national employees, or any advantage, preference or benefit upon women, children, disabled persons, the elderly or others prescribed by any other legislation. Where an employee successfully proves that they have been discriminated against, the employee is not entitled to any compensation personally, but instead their employer may be subject to financial penalties which could range from AED5,000 to AED1 million.
Under the new discrimination legislation, it is important to note that the representative, director or agent of a legal entity may be held vicariously liable for offenses under that law committed by employees of that entity. In order for vicarious liability to arise, the offense must have been committed with the knowledge of the representative/director/agent, and the employee must have been acting in the entity's name or to its interest.
There are also specific anti-discrimination provisions in the DIFC and ADGM.
Under the Labor Law, a woman must be paid the same as a man if she performs the same work.
Direct and indirect discrimination is prohibited, along with victimization and harassment. Employers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for persons with disabilities.
Characteristics protected from unlawful discrimination and harassment: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Federal law generally protects employees from discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on race, color, religion, sex (including transgender identities and sexual orientation), national origin – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), age (40 and over) – Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), disability – Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and genetic information – Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). State and local protected categories vary and are often broader (eg, creed, marital status, domestic partnership status, military status, domestic violence victim status, arrest record, conviction record, alienage, citizenship status, unemployment status, political beliefs and party affiliation). In recent years, various states and localities enacted new protections related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, disabilities, and physical characteristics historically associated with race (eg, hair texture and hairstyles).
In June 2020, the US Supreme Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII’s ban on employment discrimination based on sex. In the wake of the Court’s decision, states continue to amend discrimination laws to include gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation as protected classes.
States and localities continue to take the lead on legislation addressing workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the wake of the #MeToo movement, strengthening protections for women and against sexual and gender harassment. For example, state or local laws may:
- Adopt a lower standard for proving harassment
- Mandate sexual harassment training
- Expand the scope of existing laws to cover smaller employers or non-employees such as interns, independent contractors and freelancers
- Extend the time for an employee to file an administrative complaint or lawsuit
- Require reporting of adverse judgments and administrative rulings
- Limit or prohibit nondisclosure, non-disparagement or no-rehire provisions in certain settlements or employment agreements
- Allow for voidable “golden parachute” provisions for management employees or
- Limit or ban the use of mandatory arbitration for certain claims, although some of these laws are being challenged.
In particular, employers are seeing more laws restricting the use of arbitration agreements and non-disclosure agreements for harassment and discrimination claims. The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act took effect in 2022, and President Biden signed the Speak Out Act limiting the enforceability of pre-dispute nondisclosure and nondisparagement clauses for sexual assault and sexual harassment. Various states, including California, Maine, Oregon and Washington, passed similar laws limiting the use of nondisclosure provisions.
States and localities also continue to enact laws to address equal pay issues. For example, laws may ban salary history inquiries, prohibit retaliation against an employee for discussing wages or compensation with another employee, require pay data reporting or mandate certain job posting and compensation disclosures. In 2022, various states and localities (eg, California, New York City, New York, Washington) adopted salary posting and/or reporting requirements.
Employers must refrain from any distinctions, exclusions, preferences or restrictions in job access and employment based on sex, race, religion, marital status, pregnancy, political beliefs, sexual preferences, social class, union affiliation, physical disability and criminal background.
Different treatment is not considered discriminatory if it is based on an objective and reasonable purpose. The Supreme Court has identified 4 conditions under which differential treatment is not considered discriminatory:
- It has a specific purpose.
- It has a reasonable aim (ie, it is compatible with constitutional rights and principles).
- It has a proportionate effect in relation to the circumstances and the aim achieved.
- It is applied to all cases of the same kind.
For example, different pay based on seniority, family burdens or qualifications would not constitute discrimination under these criteria.
In addition, there are cases of positive discrimination provided by law – for example, disability quotas and foreign labor quotas.
Any discrimination, exclusion or preference on the grounds of race, color, gender, nationality, social class, ethnicity, age, maternity status, marital status, religion, belief, political belief, HIV status, family responsibility, disability or joining or establishing a trade union or employees' organization at the enterprise is prohibited. Discrimination against outsourced employees is additionally prohibited.