Report on the activity of the Equal Treatment Authority in 2011


Some 1,000 complaints were lodged with the Equal Treatment Authority in 2011. There is a declining trend in the number of complaints, and this development owes much to the fact that complainants are increasingly better informed, more aware of their rights and more goal-oriented, and also to the fact that complaints are filtered by equal treatment consultants who work in 19 counties and Budapest. Thanks to the work of the latter, only those cases make it to the Authority in which there is a reasonable presumption that discrimination has taken place. There has also been a gradual decline in the number of petitions in which the Authority could not proceed because the impugned conduct fell outside its competence.
The 2011 data also show that the requirement of equal treatment is still most often violated by employers and the providers of various services.
The number of proceedings concluded by a settlement grew to 39 in 2011. The continually growing willingness to settle is the result of a deliberate strategy pursued by the Authority.
The settlements reached reflect not only a greater willingness to compromise on the part of the clients, but also the mediation efforts of our case workers. To ensure the lasting success of the procedures it handles, the Authority strives – within the framework of the application of the law – to use the instrument of mediation to make the complainant and the subject of the procedure co-operate with one another. If the perpetrator violating the principle of equal treatment and the person subject to the ill-treatment jointly find a way to end the rights infringement, then this – in addition to terminating discrimination – also offers an efficient instrument of prevention. In discharging its duties, the Authority continues to hold that assessing monetary fines on the subjects of the procedures is not part of its objectives; this attitude is well-illustrated by the fact that the Authority resorted to fines in a mere 11 cases last year.
Last year’s statistics reveal that Budapest and surrounding Pest county are still the source of most applications, while there are counties, such as for example Tolna and Vas, where the number of complaints was negligible.
The protected characteristics that complainants most often brought up as the underlying reason for the discriminatory treatment against their person were motherhood or pregnancy (42 cases), health condition (56 cases), age (38 cases), disability (114 cases) and belonging to a national or ethnic minority (118 cases). In terms of the areas most infected by discrimination, employment and the labour market continue to rank at the top (20 decisions affirming the complaint), followed by the sale of goods and the consumption of services (10 decisions affirming the complaint).
The number of decisions determining that a rights infringement had occurred increased slightly in 2011: the Authority found in 42 cases that the subject of the procedure had violated the requirement of equal treatment. The number of unfounded complaints decreased drastically, with only 118 decisions rejecting the respective petitions in 2011.
The type of sanction most frequently applied against those who violated the requirement of equal treatment was a prohibition to engage in the infringing conduct (30 cases) and to publish the decision (26 cases). In a further 11 cases monetary fines were imposed, totalling 9,150,000 HUF. In another 9 cases the Authority obliged the person or company that was the subject of the procedure to cease the infringing conduct.