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
Age discrimination in Czech law is regulated together with other types of discrimination such as gender discrimination, racial discrimination and religious discrimination. There are three basic laws prohibiting discrimination in labour and recruitment relationships. The Labour Code (Act No. 262/2006 Coll.) prohibits discrimination in relationships between employers and their employees while discrimination during recruitment is prohibited by the Employment Act (Act No. 435/2004 Coll.).
The third basic law against discrimination which the Labour Code refers to contains only the general ban on discrimination, the Anti-Discrimination Act (Act No. 198/2009). This Act has been part of the Czech legal system as of 1 September 2010. It contains grounds on which discrimination against an individual is prohibited. Age is amongst these grounds. Direct discrimination as well as indirect are prohibited, together with harassment, victimisation, instructing another to discriminate and inciting discrimination.
Discrimination is justified if there is a genuine and determining occupational requirement. Discrimination might be justified,for example, by the nature of particular occupational activities. All justification must be legitimate and adequate.
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 on 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, provide rectification of the consequences 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.
The Employment Act allows for fines for employers who breach the ban of discrimination. The maximum fine that may be imposed is CZK1,000,000 (€40,000). The Work Inspection Act (Act No. 251/2005 Coll.) further enables the fining of an employer who discriminates against employees (irrespective whether on the basis of age or any other reason). The maximum fine imposed due to discrimination according to the Work Inspection Act may be CZK1000,000 (€40,000).
Disputes arising from discrimination are solved 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 caused by duration of the court procedures, high costs of court proceedings and the fact that employees are not generally accustomed to protect their rights in court.
What claims are most common and what are trickiest issues for employees?
As already mentioned there have been only a few age discrimination claims in the Czech Republic. These were mostly connected either with recruitment process when the job applicant was not hired because of age or with termination of employment due to organisational changes where an outcome of such changes was termination of employment of older 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 legal proceedings. White-collar employees are on the other hand much more aware of their rights and are more willing to defend them. The risk of a legal claim from these employees is therefore higher. Of course where an employee has trade union representation, often access to legal information through trade union lawyers is easier.
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 the employment with the employee after his reaching a certain age. However, some employees must retire at certain age according to special laws. This is mostly the case for employees providing public services such as judges, public prosecutors and civil servants under the Act on civil service (Act No. 234/2014 Coll.) who must retire at 70 or professional soldiers who must retire upon the statutory retirement age.
As already mentioned above 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 company reorganisation resulting in the dismissal of older employees and subsequent hiring of younger employees may be considered discriminatory even when the particular dismissal is valid, based on lawful grounds and 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 hired ones (80% of dismissed were older than 50 and 93% of hired were younger than 28). On the other hand, the court also stated that it is not possible to reach the absolute balance of effects of organisational changes on all groups of employees.