Discrimination happens (unfortunately) every day. It is important to stand up against all forms of discrimination, even though that is not always easy. The anti-discrimination authority (Antidiskriminierungs-stelle Wien) helps victims of discrimination to fight for their rights.
What is discrimination?
“Acts of Discrimination are all forms of unjustified disadvantage or unequal treatment of (groups of) people based on age, gender or gender identity, ethnicity, religion, worldview, sexual orientation or handicap.” That is the common definition of discrimination.
There is a difference between direct and indirect discrimination. The former describes a mistreatment of a person based on certain attributes (e.g.: a black person happens to wait longer in the doctor’s office than a white person). Indirect discrimination, however, happens if laws or regulations exclude certain (groups of) people by their wording (taking the example of child support in Austria: the higher the income, the higher child support; single parents do not have the same chances of getting the same amount of child support as couples).
Another form of discrimination is harassment. Harassment affects people directly. For example: one gets insulted or attacked on the street. Victimizing happens, when people who are being discriminated against are attacked for complaining or fighting discrimination. It does not matter which form of discrimination happens – it is never justified and must be prevented at all times.
Anti-discrimination authority Vienna
In Vienna there is an authority for fighting discrimination: the Stelle zur Bekämpfung von Diskriminierung. This authority helps all people who are being discriminated against concerning legal matters which are handled by the county or city of Vienna. Complaints are being addressed based on the Wiener Antidiskriminierungsgesetz (Vienna anti-discrimination law).
In 2004 this law was extended to include officials. The law prohibits discrimination from officials based on ethnicity, religion, worldview, handicap, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and pregnancy. Officials must never discriminate any other person or be discriminated against by their employers based on these attributes. Illegal discrimination may happen in connection with salary, promotion, grant of social services or education, working conditions or dismissal. In case of discrimination, one should contact the authority for anti-discrimination.
Arbitration process and lawsuit
The anti-discrimination authority Vienna gives advice and provides help regarding legal matters to everyone who is affected by any kind of discrimination. First, an arbitration process is initiated with a formal application. Arbitration advisors help finding an agreement on the matter. Mediation might also be requested in order to support the arbitration process. If no agreement is reached, the affected party may file a lawsuit which will then be discussed in court. The limitation period in matters of discrimination is three years (cases of harassment have a limitation period of only one year). This period is paused for the time of the arbitration process and is continued after the process.
The city of Vienna takes over all costs regarding arbitration processes, including translation, mediation and hiring of experts. Discrimination should never be accepted; one should seek help if they are affected by any form of discrimination.