Equal Treatment Authority: Rejection of transgender job applicant was unlawful
The Equal Treatment Authority found discrimination based on gender identity for the first time in a case concerning an employer’s rejection of a transgender job applicant. The complainant was represented by Háttér Society.
The transgender complainant from a small village in Western Hungary has been living as a woman for six years. She dresses and behaves accordingly, but has not yet applied for legal gender recognition. She went for a job interview at a clothing store in a nearby city. However, when the sales manager saw her credentials bearing a male name, she told her that they were seeking a female shop assistant, and then laughed at the applicant when she reaffirmed she was a woman.
With the help of Háttér Society, the complainant turned to the Equal Treatment Authority to hold the firm accountable for rejecting her application on the basis of her gender identity and for hostile behavior. The Authority agreed with the complainant that the employer discriminated her on the basis of her gender identity. The Authority also found that seeking a female shop assistant exclusively was direct discrimination on the basis of sex. As a sanction, the Authority forbade future unlawful conduct, and ordered that its decision be published online.
The Equal Treatment Act (2003) forbids discrimination and harassment by employers, health and educational institutions as well as service providers. The act lists sex, sexual orientation as well as gender identity among the grounds of discrimination, thus providing specific protection for transgender people. Over the past years, several complainants have turned to the Equal Treatment Authority because of discrimination or harassment based on gender identity, but their complaints were either rejected or closed with a settlement. This is the first time the Authority delivered a decision finding discrimination based on gender identity.
Transgender people face serious disadvantage at the labor market: a recent research report by Háttér Society shows that 72 per cent of transgender respondents had been unemployed for more than 3 months; 40 per cent had been dismissed from work because of their trans status and 80 per cent had changed jobs because of transphobic attitudes at their workplace. Only slightly more than one third (36%) of the firms participating in the research had in force equal opportunity plans or antidiscrimination measures listing gender identity among grounds of discrimination.