The Anti-Discrimination Act

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Sosialdepartementet

The Act on prohibition of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, etc. (the Anti-Discrimination Act) (unofficial translation)

The Act on prohibition of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, etc. (the Anti-Discrimination Act) (unofficial translation)

The Act on prohibition of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, etc. (the Anti-Discrimination Act) (unofficial translation)

The Act came into force 1 January 2006.

Section 1. Purpose
The purpose of the Act is to promote equality, ensure equal opportunities and rights and prevent discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, descent, skin colour, language, religion or belief.

Section 2. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 21 December 1965 shall apply as Norwegian law. The convention shall be published in the Norwegian Law Gazette in one of the original languages and in a Norwegian translation.

Section 3. Scope
The Act shall apply in all areas of society except for family life and personal relationships. The prohibition of discrimination based on religion or belief, cf. section 4, first paragraph, shall not apply to actions and activities carried out under the auspices of religious and belief communities and enterprises with a religious or belief-related purpose, if the actions or activities are significant for the accomplishment of the community’s or the enterprise’s religious or belief-related purpose. The exception in the second sentence shall not apply in working life.

The Act shall apply to actions carried out in the Realm, including on Svalbard and Jan Mayen. It shall also apply to permanent and mobile installations used in activities on the Norwegian continental shelf and on Norwegian vessels and aircraft.

Section 4. Prohibition against discrimination
Direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, descent, skin colour, language, religion or belief is prohibited.

“Direct discrimination” shall mean that the purpose or effect of an act or omission is such that persons or enterprises are treated less favourably than others are, have been or would have been treated in a corresponding situation on such grounds as are mentioned in the first paragraph.“Indirect discrimination” shall mean any apparently neutral provision, condition, practice, act or omission that would put persons at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons on such grounds as are mentioned in the first paragraph. “Indirect discrimination in working life” shall mean any apparently neutral provision, condition, practice, act or omission that in fact has the effect of putting a job applicant or employee in a less favourable position than other job applicants or employees on such grounds as are mentioned in the first paragraph.

Differential treatment that is necessary in order to achieve a legitimate aim, and which does not involve a disproportionate intervention in relation to the person or persons so treated is not regarded as discrimination pursuant to the present Act.

It is prohibited to be an accessory to any breach of the prohibition against discrimination laid down in the present section.

Section 5 Prohibition against harassment
Harassment on such grounds as are mentioned in section 4, first paragraph, is prohibited. “Harassment” shall mean acts, omissions or statements which have an offensive, frightening, hostile, degrading or humiliating effect, or which are intended to have such an effect.

It is prohibited to be an accessory to any breach of the provision in the first paragraph.

Employers and the management of organizations or educational institutions shall, within their spheres of responsibility, take precautions against and seek to prevent the occurrence of harassment in contravention of the first paragraph.

Section 6. Prohibition against instructions
It is prohibited to instruct anyone to carry out an act of discrimination or harassment on such grounds as are mentioned in section 4, first paragraph. It is also prohibited to instruct anyone to carry out an act of reprisal in breach of section 9.

It is prohibited to be an accessory to any breach of the provision in the first paragraph.

Section 7. Prohibition against obtaining information in connection with appointments
Employers shall not, when advertising for new employees or in another manner ask applicants to provide information regarding their stance on religious or cultural issues. Nor may employers initiate measures to obtain such information in another manner.

The prohibition in the first paragraph shall not apply if the information regarding the applicants’ stance on religious or cultural issues is obtained on account of the nature of the position, or if it is part of the purpose of the enterprise concerned to promote specific religious or cultural views and the stance of the employee will be significant for the accomplishment of the said purpose. If information of this nature will be required, this must be stated in the advertisement of the vacant position.

Section 8. Positive action
Specific measures that contribute to promote the purpose of the Act shall not be regarded as discrimination pursuant to this Act. Such measures shall cease when the purpose of it has been achieved.

Section 9. Prohibition against acts of reprisal
It is prohibited to carry out reprisals against anyone who has made a complaint concerning a breach of the provisions of sections 4, 5, 6 or 7, or who has stated that a complaint may be made. This shall not apply if the complainant has acted with gross negligence.

The first paragraph shall apply correspondingly to witnesses.

Section 10. Burden of proof
If there are circumstances that give reason to believe that a breach of any of the provisions of sections 4, 5, 6, 7 or 9 has taken place, such breach shall be assumed to have taken place unless the person responsible for the act, omission or statement produces evidence showing that no such breach has taken place.

Section 11. Employers’ obligation to disclose information in matters concerning appointments
A job applicant who believes himself or herself to have been discriminated against in breach of section 4, first paragraph, may demand that the employer provide information in writing concerning the education, practice and other clearly ascertainable qualifications of the appointee for the post in question.

Section 12. The right of organizations to act as an agent, etc.
An organization whose purpose is, wholly or partly, to oppose discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, etc. may be used as an agent in administrative proceedings pursuant to the present Act.

A person appointed by and associated with an organization whose purpose is, wholly or partly, to work to prevent discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, etc. may be used as a legal representative in cases brought before the courts pursuant to this Act. This does not apply in such cases as are mentioned in section 44, first paragraph, of the Civil Procedure Act.

The court may refuse to approve an authority to conduct legal proceedings for another person if, in the judgment of the court, there is a risk that the legal representative is not sufficiently qualified to satisfactorily defend the interests of the party concerned.

In addition to such authority as referred to in section 46 of the Civil Procedure Act, a legal representative shall at the same time present a written orientation from the organization concerning the qualifications of the legal representative.

Section 13. Enforcement
The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud and the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal shall, with exception of sections 14 and 15, monitor compliance with and help to implement this Act, cf. the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud Act.

Section 14. Redress and damages
A person who wilfully or negligently acts in contravention of sections 4, 5, first and second paragraphs, 6, 7 or 9 may be ordered to pay redress to the aggrieved person. Such redress shall be stipulated at the amount that is found to be reasonable in due of the circumstances of the parties and other facts in the case.

A job applicant or employee may demand redress for a contravention of sections 4, 5, first and second paragraphs, 6, 7 or 9 in working life without regard to the fault of the employer.This applies correspondingly to any person who applies to become, or who is, a member or a participant in an employee’s, employer’s or professional organization.

Compensation for financial loss as a result of a breach of the present Act may be claimed pursuant to the ordinary rules governing damages.

Section 15. Penalty for a gross breach of the prohibition against discrimination that has been committed jointly by several persons
Any person who wilfully and jointly with at least two other persons commits a serious contravention or is accessory to a serious contravention of sections 4, 5 or 6 shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years. Any person who has previously been sentenced to a penalty for contravention of the present provision may be liable to a penalty even if the contravention is not serious.

When assessing whether a contravention is serious, particular importance shall be attached to the degree of manifest fault, whether the contravention was racially motivated, whether it is in the nature of harassment, whether it constitutes an offence against the person or serious violation of a person’s mental integrity, whether it is liable to create fear and whether it was committed against a person under the age of 18.

Before instituting a prosecution for such offences as are mentioned in the first paragraph, an assessment shall be made of whether it will be sufficient to impose an administrative sanction.

The provisions of section 10 regarding the burden of proof shall not apply in connection with the enforcement of this provision.

If the contravention is part of the activity of an organized criminal group, sections 162 c and 60 a of the General Civil Penal Code shall apply.

Section 16. Commencement
This Act shall enter into force on the date decided by the King.

Section 17. Amendments to other statutes
With effect from the date this Act enters into force, the following amendments shall be made to other Acts: (not complete)

1. In the Act of 22 May 1902 No. 10, the General Civil Penal Code, the following amendments shall be made:

Section 135 a shall read as follows:

Any person who wilfully or through gross negligence publicly makes a discriminatory or hateful statement shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years. If a statement has been made in such a way as to make it suitable to reach a large number of people, it shall be considered equivalent to a statement that has been made publicly, cf. section 7, no. 2. The use of symbols is also considered to be a statement. An accessory to the act shall be liable to the same penalty.

A “discriminatory or hateful statement” means the act of threatening or insulting a person, or promoting hatred or persecution of or contempt for a person because of his or her

a) skin colour or national or ethnic origin

b) religion or belief, or

c) homosexual preference, lifestyle or orientation.

Section 349 a, first paragraph, shall read:

A person who in an occupational or similar activity refuses any person goods or services on the same conditions as apply to others because of the latter’s religion or belief, skin colour or national or ethnic origin, shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. The same penalty shall apply to any person who in any such activity refuses a person goods or services as mentioned because of his or her homosexual preference, lifestyle or orientation.