General Equal Treatment Act

The General Act on Equal Treatment (German abbreviation: AGG) has been in force since 18 August 2006. It incorporates four Anti-Discrimination Directives of the EU into German law.

The purpose of this Act is to prevent or to stop discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. (Section 1 of this Act) The General Act on Equal Treatment governs the claims and legal consequences in the case of discrimination, both in the field of work and also for the sphere of civil law:

Labour law

Employers have to observe the ban on discrimination when publishing job advertisements and also during the application procedure. However, the employees - women and men - are also entitled to be protected against discrimination in existing employment relationships. They may lodge a claim for compensation or damages and file a complaint about discrimination with their employers. For this purpose, a complaints unit has to be established at all companies and the employees have to be duly notified about its existence.

Employers have to ensure that discrimination does not take place. In addition, they are obliged to take measures against employees who discriminate against other colleagues. The possible measures for this purpose range from a transfer to another post over a reprimand up to a dismissal.

But there are also exceptions to the ban on discrimination: For example a denominational nursery school is free to require a certain religious affiliation as a condition for employing a nursery school teacher.

Civil law

In the field of civil law, the protection granted in the General Act on Equal Treatment comprises bulk business and insurances under private law. Bulk business is concluded irrespective of the person involved and in a large number of cases. These include everyday matters such as shopping or going to restaurants.

The protection by law also takes effect in the case of insurance under private law, which has been taken out later than 22 December 2007. However, where insurance contracts have been modified subsequent to the introduction of the General Act on Equal Treatment (18 August 2006), these modifications might - depending on the respective circumstances – infringe upon the provisions of the General Act on Equal Treatment.

In cases of infringements of the General Act on Equal Treatment, persons discriminated against may assert claims to compensation or damages.

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