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Anti-Discrimination Laws in Colombia

1. Brief Description of Anti-Discrimination Laws

Colombia´s national law prohibits discrimination in employment due to age, color, disability, sex, cultural and ethnic origin, language, pregnancy, race, religion, age, and political or philosophical opinion.

2. Extent of Protection

Right to work in conditions of equality due to age. Law 931, 2004:

This law guarantees a special protection of the right that every citizen has to be treated on equal terms. Citizens cannot be discriminated in their access to work because of their age.

Right to be remunerated in conditions of equality due to sex. Law 1469, 2011:

This law guarantees equal salary and compensation between women and men, and establishes guidelines to eliminate any discriminatory form in terms of labor remuneration.

Law for Integration of People with Disabilities. Law 361, 1997:

Prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with a disability if they can perform the essential functions of the job with no special accommodations, or if they can perform such functions with special accommodations which are “reasonable” based upon the size of the company; the nature of the job; and the costs of the accommodations. Employees with disabilities cannot be terminated unless authorized by a labor authority.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Law 74, 1968. Title II:

This law commits to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. Prohibits discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex (gender), and national origin in hiring, employment (all terms, conditions and benefits), and termination.

Pregnancy Discrimination. Political Constitution of Colombia, Article 43. Colombian Labor Code, Articles 236-244:

Prohibits discrimination due to pregnancy or motherhood and establishes that pregnant women or women under maternity leave cannot be terminated unless authorized by a labor authority.

Protection from Harassment. Law 1010, 2006:

Labor harassment is persistent and demonstrable conduct taken against an employee by a co-worker, superior or boss, with the purpose of generating fear, intimidation, terror and anguish, or of inducing the employee’s resignation. Harassment generally includes any conduct that is capable of offending human dignity, life, physical integrity or sexual freedom. Harassment is presumed to have occurred whenever any of the following take place: (i) threats of dismissal; (ii) physical aggression; and, (iii) harmful expressions of insulting language, and language related to ethnicity, religion, gender, family origin or nationality and is enforceable through Civil or Labor Courts.

3. Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations

Employers in Colombia are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities if they can perform the essential functions of the job without a special accommodation, or if they can perform such functions with a special accommodation, which is “reasonable” based on the size of the company, the nature of the job, and the financial burden of the special accommodation.

Recent case law has established that the employees that have special protection due to disability or illness cannot be terminated and instead they must be relocated to another position if it is required, so that the employee can keep performing his/her activities in the company.

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