Tackling discrimination

The task of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman is to advance equality and to prevent and tackle discrimination. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman’s duty is to assess and ensure that people’s rights and the legal protection of individuals are realised as equally as possible. The duties and rights of the Ombudsman are provided for in the Non-Discrimination Act and the Act on the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman.

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman handles contacts related to discrimination based on all grounds for discrimination in accordance with the Non-discrimination Act. You may refer to the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman if you have experienced or observed discrimination on the basis of age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relationships, state of health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. Read more on our page: grounds for discrimination.

Discrimination related to gender, gender identity or gender expression belongs to the domain of the Ombudsman for Equality. The Non-Discrimination Act applies to multiple discrimination, also when gender is one of the grounds for discrimination.

Many ways of tackling discrimination and promoting equality

Under the Non-Discrimination Act, the Ombudsman has many different ways to tackle discrimination and promote equality. In practice the work of the Ombudsman involves counselling, investigating individual cases, promoting conciliation between the parties, providing training, gathering information, as well as influencing legislation and the practices of the authorities. The Ombudsman can also bring an individual case concerning discrimination to the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal or a court of law to be resolved. The Ombudsman cooperates often with stakeholders and does advocacy work to promote equality and respond to and prevent discrimination.

When an individual person files a complaint with the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman has broad discretionary powers to decide what kind of measures will be taken. At its easiest, the situation may be resolved via e-mail or telephone. Usually the Ombudsman starts to investigate the case if there is a clear reason to suspect discrimination that is in violation of the Non-discrimination Act based on the complaint.  

You can read about the operating methods of the Non-discrimination Ombudsman below in more detail.

What the Non-discrimination Ombudsman cannot do

  • The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman cannot order another authority to perform a certain action or to make a certain decision.
  • The Ombudsman cannot amend a decision made by another authority.
  • The Non-discrimination Ombudsman cannot issue a legally binding decision.
  • Filing a complaint with the Ombudsman does not replace other rectification or appeal procedures that may be available in the case. For example, if a negative decision can be appealed, it should be done within the deadline.
  • As a rule, the Non-discrimination Ombudsman does not process issues that are pending elsewhere.