Ombudsman investigates discrimination in employment in Hungary

Parliamentary Ombudsman for Minority Rights Jenő Kaltenbach held a press conference on November 23, 1998, concerning his investigation into employment practices. According to Kaltenbach, his office is contacted regularly by Roma with complaints about discrimination by employers, often including the refusal to hire them on the basis of their ethnicity. Article 5 of the Hungarian Labour Code (Act XXII of 1992) prohibits discrimination in the work place on the basis of race or ethnic origin, among others. Despite opportunities provided by the legal system, no law suits were filed in 1997 or 1998 for discrimination in employment. The office claims that there are many unreported cases of employment discrimination, which never reach organisations offering legal defence. Cases of employment discrimination reported to state employment offices are rarely investigated.

In the Ombudsman's recommendations, he asked the Ministry of Social and Family Protection to compile an information leaflet to inform prospective employees of their rights. He also suggested that employment centres should report all cases where discrimination occurs. The Ombudsman also requested that the Ministry of Justice work out a simplified procedure for discrimination cases as well as recommending that the Ministry of Internal Affairs oblige officials to report discrimination cases. The Ombudsman further suggested stricter punishment for companies suspected of discriminatory practices, including barring them from obtaining state contracts.

(ERRC, Roma Press Center)

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