Have I been discriminated against?

Experiencing discrimination is often a difficult and emotional experience. If you suspect that you have experienced discrimination, there are several parties in Finland that you can contact and that can help you to assess the situation. It may be difficult for a person to assess by themselves whether the situation involved illegal discrimination. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman assesses your case based specifically on the Non-discrimination Act. On this page, you can also find information on other parties that handle issues outside the field of competence of the Non-discrimination Ombudsman.

If you suspect that you have experienced discrimination, you can 

  • try to settle the matter together with the party you suspect has discriminated against you
  • contact a competent authority, such as the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, the occupational safety and health authorities of the Regional State Administrative Agency, or other parties that offer help and guidance and are able to assess your situation
  • bring your matter to the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal to be processed
  • file a report of an offence with the police.

Have I experienced discrimination?

Fundamental to the evaluation of discrimination is the identification of different treatment. Different treatment is obvious in situations such as a local register office refusing to marry a couple of the same gender, or excluding a specific group such as foreigners in a housing advertisement. The key in identifying different treatment is to ask: Have I been treated differently than other people? 

Treating individuals differently is not prohibited in itself. It is only prohibited when the grounds for such treatment are personal characteristics defined by law as prohibited grounds for discrimination. Grounds for discrimination prohibited by the Non-discrimination Act are age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relationships, state of health, disability, sexual orientation and other personal characteristics.

In addition, there must also be factors involved in the case proving that the different treatment is specifically due to prohibited grounds for discrimination. Such factors may include, for example, a customer service staff member referring to the origin or disability of a person as grounds for different treatment. 

Sometimes, treating people the same way may also constitute discrimination. For example, a restaurant’s prohibition of head coverings applies to everyone as such, but it may affect especially people who wear a head covering of some kind for religious reasons. 

When you suspect you have experienced discrimination, consider the following questions:

  • Was I treated differently from other persons?
  • Was the different treatment due to prohibited grounds for discrimination, that is, a personal characteristic?
  • Why do you suspect that you were treated differently from others because of prohibited grounds for discrimination?

In unclear situations, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman. We will help you assess whether the matter involves illegal discrimination.

When you contact the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman

The experts in the Office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman assess all complaints concerning discrimination received by the Ombudsman. The experts assess whether the case involves discrimination. 

The Ombudsman has broad discretionary powers to decide what measures will be taken based on an individual complaint. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman has many ways of tackling discrimination and promoting equality.  

Even if someone may justifiably feel that they have experienced discrimination, the matter may still not constitute discrimination as referred to in the Non-discrimination Act. In such cases, the Non-discrimination Ombudsman is not competent to assess the matter. In that case, the situation should be assessed by another authority. The Non-discrimination Ombudsman is also not competent to assess individual cases of discrimination in working life.

Other actors