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Anti-Discrimination Laws in Norway

1. Brief Description of Anti-Discrimination Laws

The Working Environment Act sets out rules on protection against discrimination within the workplace. Other laws protect against discrimination in working life, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and disabled persons.

2. Extent of Protection

The anti-discrimination laws apply to all aspects of an employment relationship and set out protection against both direct and indirect discrimination. The definitions of direct and indirect discrimination are not quite the same in the various laws.

The Working Environment Act sets out a prohibition against direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of political views, membership in an employee organization or age. Furthermore, it sets out a prohibition against direct and indirect discrimination of workers who work part-time or who are temporarily employed.

3. Protections Against Harassment

Harassment based on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or handicap is considered as direct discrimination and thus prohibited by the anti-discrimination laws, which also prohibits harassment on the grounds of membership in employee organizations political views or age.

Furthermore, the law stipulates that employees shall not be subjected to harassment or other improper conduct. The word harassment is not defined in legislation or in case law.

4. Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations

The anti-discrimination legislation prohibits direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of religion or disability. Employers should ask the employee what they expect of accommodation to practice their religion, and be clear about the expectations that can be met.

Disabled persons are entitled to suitable individual accommodation of workplaces and tasks to ensure they can obtain or retain employment, access to training and other skills development as well as perform and have the opportunity to progress in the work on an equal basis with others. This right applies provided that it does not involve undue burden.

5. Remedies

Two independent administrative agencies enforce the anti-discrimination rules. Provisions in collective agreements, employment agreements, regulations, statutes, etc. that are in breach with the anti-discrimination rules in the Working Environment Act can be voided. The other anti-discrimination laws do not contain any equivalent provision. Such a claim must therefore be submitted to the ordinary courts. Violation of anti-discrimination policies can also result in criminal sanctions.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Norway, please contact Storeng, Beck & Due Lund (SBDL)
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