It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate in the processes of: hiring, promoting, remuneration and termination or with regard to admission to a training or apprenticeship program. Direct and indirect discrimination are prohibited. Furthermore, employers may not make employment conditional on the fact that the employee is or is not a member of a trade union or that he or she stops being a member; or dismiss an employee, or discriminate against him/her when assigning a job, when changing a place of work, in disciplinary procedure or prejudice him/her because of the employee’s membership in a trade union association, because of the employee’s union-related activity or because the employee has participated in a strike.
Protections Against Harassment
The same anti-discrimination provisions also apply to harassment. Harassment is unwanted conduct based on a prohibited ground with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and creating a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Sexual harassment occurs when unwanted conduct with a sexual connotation (expressed in physical, verbal or non-verbal ways) takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
There are no specific labour laws putting an obligation on the employer to provide reasonable accommodations of any kind, other than those required by law related to health and safety at work. Employers, like public offices, must provide the infrastructure needed to ensure that disabled persons/employees have access to the offices, such as stairs adapted for the disabled and/or elevators, disabled toilets etc. Italian law does not oblige employers to provide specific accommodations for religious purposes of any kind.
An employee who has been discriminated against may sue the employer before the Labour Court, under an ordinary process or an emergency one, claiming for monetary and non-monetary damages. Any agreement, unwelcome conduct or gender-related act that takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment is null and void if it is in response to a complaint or legal action brought by the employee with the aim of enforcing equal treatment. According to case law, when the perpetrator of the discriminatory conduct is not the employer but a colleague of the worker who was offended, it is possible that this latter person may be considered liable for damages deriving from the discrimination.
The Equal Opportunities Commission has the power to promote good anti-discriminatory practices. The Commission for Equal Treatment can issue codes of conduct and has the power to ask employers to provide information so that it can monitor the equal treatment of men and women. The Commission for Racial Equality has the power to support employees during a claim, investigate discriminatory conduct, ask the employers for information and documents, and give advice and recommendations.