Bel­gium shop fined for dis­crim­i­nat­ing against male job-seeker

The Malta Business Weekly - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Bel­gian shop has been or­dered to pay a man more than €13,000 in dam­ages for turn­ing him down for a job be­cause it wanted a wo­man.

The man in Lou­vain (Leu­ven), near Brus­sels, com­plained to Bel­gium's in­sti­tute for gen­der equal­ity, which won his case at a labour tri­bunal.

Re­ject­ing his ap­pli­ca­tion for stock man­ager, the clothes shop said it was "look­ing for a fe­male col­league".

The in­sti­tute says it usu­ally re­solves dis­crim­i­na­tion cases out of court.

Nei­ther the shop in Lou­vain nor the job-seeker were named, for le­gal rea­sons.

The award of €13,289.84 rep­re­sents about six months' gross salary in the post that the man wanted.

The shop was also or­dered to pay one euro to the In­sti­tute for Equal­ity be­tween Women and Men.

A lawyer at the in­sti­tute, Pauline Loeckx, said that in 2017 she and her col­leagues han­dled about 50 claims from men and 60 from women con­cern­ing sex dis­crim­i­na­tion dur­ing job re­cruit­ment.

At the tri­bunal, she said, the Lou­vain clothes shop ar­gued that it had found a more ca­pa­ble wo­man to do the job. But the ev­i­dence of dis­crim­i­na­tion was in the e-mail it had sent to the male ap­pli­cant.

"With men you see the dis­crimi- na­tion mostly at the re­cruit­ment stage, whereas with women there is dis­crim­i­na­tion at each stage of work: in re­cruit­ment, salary lev­els and dis­missal," Ms Loeckx said.

The IEFH acts to en­force Bel­gium's gen­der equal­ity laws na­tion­ally. Last year it han­dled 295 com­plaints of sex dis­crim­i­na­tion - not just work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion, but also in ser­vices.

About 58% of those con­cern­ing the work­place came from women, and more than 150 were re­lated to preg­nancy, Ms Loeckx said.

The Lou­vain case, she said, il­lus­trates that re­cruit­ment de­ci­sions "are of­ten based on stereo­types, not on the real com­pe­tences of peo­ple".

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