General prohibition of discrimination

The Equality Act can be applied to almost all of society. Family relationships, relationships pertaining to personal life and religious practices are an exception.

There are special prohibitions of discrimination related to several areas of life. These are working life, educational institutions, interest groups and activities related to the availability and supply of goods and services (sections 8–8e of the Equality Act).

The Equality Act contains a general prohibition of discrimination (section 7 of the Equality Act). It can be applied where special prohibitions do not apply.

The Ombudsman for Equality has studied the following cases, among others, regarding the general prohibition of discrimination:

  • the practice regarding decisions on social assistance for married women or common-law wives according to which the decision has been given or sent under the husband's name and the money has been paid to the husband's account, unless otherwise stated on the application
  • different reimbursement rules for osteoporosis medication for women and men 
  • achieving equality in screenings, as screenings are not used for prostate cancer, but they are used for breast cancer and cervical cancer
  • different demands on hair length and muscular endurance tests for women and men who are performing military Service.

Consequences for violating the general prohibition of discrimination

Violating the general prohibition of discrimination in the Equality Act does not lead to compensation. The violator may be sentenced by court order to pay the discriminated party compensation for example under the Tort Liability Act if it is found that there are grounds pursuant to the Tort Liability Act.

In certain cases, the Ombudsman for Equality can bring a case regarding a violation of the general prohibition before the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal. The Tribunal can forbid the party from continuing with or repeating the discriminatory behaviour, on pain of fine if required.