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Company discriminated against a job applicant on the basis of nationality – paid EUR 6,500 in compensation

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman has promoted reconciliation in a case of discrimination based on nationality during a recruitment process. In the case, a job applicant was invited for a job interview with Valmet Automotive Oy, but the employer cancelled the interview afterwards because it considered that the employee would not be entitled to work in Finland. The employer did not continue the recruitment process even though the employee provided the information to prove their right to work in Finland. The employer has paid EUR 6,500 in compensation for discrimination to the employee.

A job applicant had applied for an open position at Valmet Automotive Oy's automobile plant. The employer invited the applicant for a job interview and asked them to deliver the necessary documents proving the applicant's right to work in the EU. The documents showed that the job applicant's residence permit had expired before the time of recruitment, and the employer cancelled the applicant's job interview invitation on these grounds. However, the applicant delivered several documents to the recruitment officer to prove that they had the right to work in Finland because they had applied for a new residence permit before the expiration of the previous one. The employer did not continue the recruitment process regardless of this proof.

The job applicant contacted the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, who referred the case to the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southwestern Finland, since the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman does not have a mandate to monitor individual cases of discrimination in working life. The OSH Division conducted an inspection of Valmet Automotive Oy. In its inspection report, the Agency found that the company was guilty of discrimination prohibited in the Non-Discrimination Act by treating the job applicant less favourably based on their national origin and nationality. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman promoted a reconciliation between the company and the job applicant based on the Regional State Administrative Agency's decision. The reconciliation included the payment of EUR 6,500 in compensation to the job applicant by the company.

– Minorities in particular encounter extensive discrimination in working life. The position of foreign people and ethnic minorities in the job market is often unreasonably difficult. The law obligates employers to promote non-discrimination and ensure non-discrimination in their recruitment processes, says Non-Discrimination Ombudsman Kristina Stenman

– It is important to decisively address discrimination in working life. We are happy that, in this case, the individual received compensation for the discrimination they had suffered", Stenman continues.

In its report to the Regional State Administrative Agency, Valmet Automotive Oy stated that their conduct had been based on the TE Employment Services' guideline for hiring foreign employees, and the employer thus took the position that it had not acted in a discriminatory manner. The Regional State Administrative Agency nevertheless found in its report that the TE Employment Services' guideline in question does not apply to individual job applicants, and that the job applicant communicated their right to work in Finland to the employer in a timely manner.

By virtue of section 19 of the Non-Discrimination Act, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman can take action to reconcile a matter pertaining to compliance with the Act. Under section 23 of the Non-Discrimination Act, a person who has been discriminated against or victimised is entitled to receive compensation from the authority, employer or education provider or supplier of goods or services who has discriminated against or victimised the person contrary to this Act.