Procedure for filing a complaint
Each natural and legal person shall have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson concerning a violation of equal rights.
The complaints shall be submitted in writing. The complainant or an authorised representative can file a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson by:
- post (S. Konarskis st. 35, Lt-03123 Vilnius). Discrimination Complaint Form;
- email (email@example.com);
- filling in the electronic complaint form;
- delivering the written complaint directly to the registry of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson (S. Konarskis st. 35, Lt-03123 Vilnius). Discrimination Complaint Form.
Anonymous complaints are not investigated, unless the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson decides otherwise.
A complaint shall be filed within three months from the date of the decision or action against which the complaint is filed. Complaints filed after the expiry of this time limit are not examined, unless the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson decides otherwise.
Before filing a complaint it is essential to assess if the provided information is attributed to the competence of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson: has the experienced discrimination been based on grounds of discrimination as provisioned by laws and have the contested actions happened in one of the forbidden discrimination domains (see picture below).
A complaint must contain the following:
- the addressee – the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson;
- the complainant’s forename and surname (or the name of the institution); address of residence (or address of the institution), email address, phone number, fax number (if applicable); also, if a complaint is filed by complainant’s authorised representative, representative’s forename and surname, email address, phone number, fax number (if applicable);
- the names of the institutions or the forenames and surnames of the persons against whom the complaint is filed, their functions and the institution in which they are employed; if known, their email addresses, phone and fax numbers;
- certain contested action (inaction), administrative act or decision as well as date, time and circumstances of its execution (adoption);
- circumstances on which the complainant founds its claim and corroborative evidence, forenames, surnames and addresses of residence of witnesses as well as place of other evidence;
- an application to the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson;
- the date of writing the complaint and the complainant’s signature.
If a complaint is submitted by an authorised representative, written authorisation shall be attached to the complaint as prescribed by laws.
The following may be attached to the complaint:
- a copy of the contested administrative act or decision;
- the available evidence and its description.
Failure to adhere to the requirements for a complaint or failure to provide the particulars may not serve as a basis for refusal to examine the complaint.
Procedures for handling complaints
A complaint must be investigated and a reply must be given to the complainant within three (3) months from the day of receipt of the complaint. Where necessary, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson may extend the time limit for investigation of the complaint for up to one month. The complainant must be notified about it.
Decisions of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson
Upon completion of the investigation of the complaint, a statement shall be drawn up stating the circumstances identified and evidence collected in the course of the investigation, as well as legal evaluation of the actions (inactions). The statement shall be signed by the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson.
In the course of the investigation or upon completion of the investigation, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson may take a decision:
- to refer the investigation material to a pre-trial investigation institution or the prosecutor if elements of a criminal act have been established;
- to address an appropriate person and make a proposal to discontinue the actions (inactions) violating equal rights;
- to address an appropriate person or institution and make a proposal to amend or repeal an administrative act or decision (or part of it) violating equal rights;
- to initiate administrative proceedings;
- to reject the complaint if the violations indicated in it have not been corroborated;
- to issue a warning for the committed violation;
- to impose an obligation on operators of advertising activity to terminate the unauthorised advertisement and to establish the terms and conditions for the discharge of this obligation;
- to apply to Administrative Tribunal with an application requesting investigation of compliance of a regulatory enactment (or part thereof), general act adopted by religious community and association, political party, political organisation or association with the Law on Equal Treatment and the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.
In the course of the investigation or upon completion of the investigation, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson may take a decision to terminate the investigation if:
- the complainant withdraws his/her complaint;
- there is a lack of objective data on the committed violation;
- the complainant and offender reconcile;
- the actions (inactions) that violate equal rights are terminated;
- the administrative act or decision that violates equal rights is amended or repealed.
The decision of the investigation shall be communicated to the complainant and the person whose actions (inactions) or adopted administrative act or decision have been contested.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, after considering the fifth periodic report of Lithuania (CEDAW/C/LTU/5), recommends to give due consideration to the views and recommendations of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson when adopting legislation or formulating policies and programmes, particularly in the area of gender equality and women’s rights.
Burden of Proof
Where in the course of the hearing of complaints, petitions, applications, notifications or claims of natural or legal persons about discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion before a court or other competent authority, the complainant establishes facts from which it may be presumed that there has been direct or indirect discrimination, it shall be presumed that direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or instruction to discriminate has occurred. The respondent shall have to prove that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment.
Refusal to examine a complaint
The Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson shall refuse to examine a complaint and shall inform the complainant about the decision not later than within 10 working days from the day of receipt of the complaint if:
- it is impossible to launch an investigation due to the lack of data or if the text of the complaint is illegible, and the complainant fails to provide the necessary data at the request of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson within the given time limit;
- the complaint was filed after the expiry of the time limit (i.e. later than three months from the date of the decision or action against which the complaint is filed);
- the investigation of the circumstances specified in the complaint is not attributed to the competence of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson;
- a complaint on the same issue has already been examined, is under examination in court or, under the law, must be examined in court;
- a procedural decision has been adopted to launch a pre-trial investigation relating to the subject matter of the complaint;
- a repeated filing of a complaint on the same issue has already been examined by the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, except for the cases where new circumstances are indicated or new facts are provided.
If the complaint is returned to the complainant, the grounds for refusal to examine it must be specified. In the cases where the complaint does not fall within the competence of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, the complaint must be referred to institution of public administration, authorized to examine the complaint, not later than within 5 working days and the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson shall inform the complainant about it.
A repeated filing of a complaint after the investigation shall not be examined, except for the cases where new circumstances are indicated or new facts are provided.
Are complaints under investigation publicized?
Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson shares the information with the media about ongoing investigations of the complaints concerning equal opportunities violations only with the permission of the complainants.
Compensation for Damage
Law on Equal Treatment and Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men constitute that a person who has suffered discrimination, sexual harassment or harassment shall have the right to claim compensation for the pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage from the persons guilty thereof in the manner prescribed by laws.