Courts afraid to deal with discrimination cases
The Viciebsk Regional Court heard today a lawsuit dealing with employment discrimination. Earlier, the Court of Polack refused to recognize a fact of discrimination against a former employee of the Polack-Šklovalakno enterprise, Viktar Stukau, over his membership in an independent trade union.
Viktar Stukau, leader of the Free Trade Union’s office at the factory, says that the incident took place in 2013, when he was fired without the consent of the trade union’s executive body. According to the activist, restrictions on the rights of workers in connection with a failure to be members of the official trade union constitutes discrimination.
As yet, the courts have evaded considering such cases as discriminatory, since court hearings could legally confirm the fact of discrimination against workers. In 2013, a number of courts refused to consider a lawsuit by the Free Trade Union’s leader, who was earlier dismissed from work over his trade union affiliation. Today’s claim was filed to the court under a special procedure, so that the judge could establish a fact of employment discrimination, without any requirements to eliminate the violation.
The Polack Court said in its decision that the “settlement of collective labor disputes shall be carried out by the persons and entities referred to in Art. 379 of the Labor Code”. Thus, the court suggested that the consideration of discrimination claims is beyond its jurisdiction and asked the worker to settle the dispute with the alleged offenders, i.e. the employer and the pro-government trade union.
Viktar Stukau believes that the fact of discrimination in labor relations should be established by the court. This is confirmed by the Labor Code (Article 14), the Constitution (Article 60) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Part 1, Article 14).