This summary of age discrimination law in the Czech Republic has been prepared by Randl Partners, the Ius Laboris member for the Czech Prepublic: www.randls.com

OVERVIEW

Age discrimination in Czech law is regulated together with other types of discrimination such as gender discrimination, racial discrimination and religious discrimination.

Discrimination is governed by three legislative instruments, namely the Labour Code (Act No. 262/2006 Coll.), the Employment Act (Act No. 435/2004 Coll.), and the Anti-Discrimination Act.

The Anti-Discrimination Act was introduced to the Czech legal system as of 1 September 2010. It contains grounds on which discrimination against an individual is prohibited, one of which includes age discrimination.

Direct discrimination as well as indirect are prohibited, together with harassment, victimisation, instructing another to discriminate and inciting discrimination.

Nonetheless, discrimination may be justified if there is a genuine and determining occupational requirement. Discrimination might be justified, for example, depending on the nature of the particular occupational activities. All justification must be legitimate and adequate.

WHO’S COVERED?

Age discrimination is prohibited in all labour relationships. It relates not only to employees working on the basis of employment contract, but also to those working on the basis of agreements on work performed outside employment law relationship as well as to agency workers.

Both young and old are protected.

WHAT ENFORCEMENT / REMEDIES EXIST?

According to the Anti-Discrimination Act, an employee who has been discriminated against or whose rights to equal treatment have been harmed, is entitled to demand that the employer desist, rectify the issue and provide appropriate satisfaction.  If an employee's dignity or reputation at the workplace is substantially harmed, he/she may claim monetary compensation. The amount of monetary compensation depends on the court’s consideration. There is no limit of compensation for discrimination.

Employers who breach the Employment Act may be liable to fines, capped at CZK1,000,000 (€40,000). An employer may also be liable to financial penalties capped at CZK1000,000 (€40,000) under the Work Inspection Act (Act No. 251/2005 Coll.) where an employee has been discriminated against, irrespective of the grounds of age or another type of discrimination.

Disputes arising from discrimination are heard by the ordinary courts. There are no special employment courts or bodies in the Czech Republic.

There are no criminal sanctions for age discrimination.

HOW COMMON ARE CLAIMS?

Discrimination claims are rare in the Czech Republic. This is largely attributed to the lengthy litigation proceedings, high costs of court proceedings and the fact that employees are generally not accustomed to protect their rights in court.

WHAT CLAIMS ARE MOST COMMON AND WHAT ARE TRICKIEST ISSUES FOR EMPLOYEES?

Age discrimination claims, albeit rare, mostly arise during the recruitment process when a job applicant was not hired because of age, or where an employee has been terminated due to the organisational changes where the outcome of such changes resulted in the termination of more senior employees.

In general, blue-collar employees are usually unaware of their rights, are afraid of losing their jobs and do not want to spend their money on lawyers and expensive legal proceedings.  White-collar employees are on the other hand, much more aware of their rights and are more willing to defend themselves. It is therefore, more common for white-collar employees to bring a legal claim where they have faced discrimination in the workplace. Where an employee has trade union representation, legal information is more easily accessible, especially when they have access to trade union lawyers.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC EXCEPTIONS IN YOUR LAW?

Generally, there is no retirement age in the Czech Republic which would allow the employer to terminate an employee’s employment. However, some employees must retire at certain age according to special laws. For example, employees working in the public sector such as judges, public prosecutors and civil servants under the Act on Civil Service (Act No. 234/2014 Coll.) must retire at 70. Military personnel must retire once they receive their pension.

INTERESTING CASES

Discrimination cases are very rare in the Czech Republic. The most important one was considered by the Czech Constitutional Court. The court in this case ruled that a company reorganisation resulting in the dismissal of older employees and subsequent hiring of younger employees was considered discriminatory even when the particular dismissal was valid, based on lawful grounds and was objectively justified. This ruling was issued on the basis of statistics which showed a substantial difference between the ages of the dismissed employees and the employees who were hired (80% of dismissed were older than 50, and 93% of hired were younger than 28). The court also stated that it is not possible to reach the absolute balance of effects of organisational changes on all groups of employees.