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How to prevent

How to defend against discrimination?

If you encounter discrimination, you can proceed as follows:

  • You may address the competent control or superior body. (Examples: If an employer discriminates in selecting among jobseekers or against an employee, a jobseeker or employee may address a complaint to a labour inspectorate. If an employee discriminates against another employee, the injured party should address his/her superior. An injured consumer has the possibility of addressing the Czech Trade Inspection Authority.  In this manner, termination of the discriminatory conduct can be achieved, but it is impossible to request adequate satisfaction (e.g. apology) or compensation for the incurred material or non-material damage.
  • The injured party may bring an action before the courts. In that case, the victim of discrimination may require termination of the discriminatory conduct, remedy of its consequences and provision of adequate satisfaction (e.g. apology). It is also possible to request financial compensation for the damage incurred.
  • The third option is an attempt at an amicable resolution through so-called mediation.  Both parties, the discriminating and the discriminated against, must agree with mediation – neither of the parties may be forced to negotiate. The mediator is a trained person who subsequently assists both parties in reaching an agreement.

Submitting evidence of discrimination before the court

Submitting evidence in discrimination disputes differs from that in other private-law disputes, but it does not represent a presumption of fault as is often wrongly claimed.

So-called divided burden of proof is concerned in discrimination disputes, where both parties submit evidence.

The plaintiff (i.e. the victim of discrimination) must claim and prove that (s)he was subject to different or less favourable treatment. If (s)he proves this, it is up to the defendant (i.e. the party which discriminated) to prove that, on the contrary, discrimination did not take place. The defendant must prove that his/her conduct had a legitimate aim which justifies an unequal approach. (S)he must also prove that the means used by him/her to achieve that legitimate aim were appropriate and necessary.

(Example: The plaintiff must prove, e.g. by means of documentary evidence and witness testimony or otherwise that she received for the same work a lower wage than her colleague because she is a woman (rather than based on a lower qualification, lower quality of the performed work, etc.). Thus, she claims discrimination on grounds of sex. The defendant, i.e. the employer, must prove that he had a reasonable (legitimate) reason for the conduct, and if he does so, he must also prove that the difference between the plaintiff’s wage and that of her male colleague was appropriate and necessary.

Before what court should an action for discrimination be brought?

In the majority of discrimination cases, i.e. particularly in labour-law and consumer matters, pursuant to Sections 9 and 84 et seq. of the Code of Civil Court Procedure, in the first instance the action should be addressed to the district court that has local jurisdiction with respect to the defendant (i.e. the party which allegedly discriminated). The situation is more complicated in matters concerning the service of police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, etc. You should always consult a lawyer of the Public Defender of Rights or your legal representative for an accurate determination of the competent court.  Discrimination disputes in general are very complicated and it is not recommended that a victim of discrimination bring an action before the court independently, without assistance of an attorney-at-law, although the law does not exclude this option.

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