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I experienced discrimination in Lithuania. What should I do?

Everyone who has experienced discrimination in Lithuania has a right to file a complaint to the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of Lithuania. The complaint must be investigated within three months.

File the complaint.

If you suspect that you have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment or harassment based on your identity, do not hesitate and consult the experts of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson. Lawyers of the Office will help you to evaluate the situation and give advice what could be done. 

You may contact the Office:

Via e-mail: lygybe@lygybe.lt.

By phone: +370 5 205 0640.

By filling in the contact form.

What is discrimination in Lithuania?

Direct discrimination means any situation where one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, citizenship*, language, origin, social status**, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion.

* The ground of citizenship means the citizenship of nationals of the Member States of the European Union and the States of the European Economic Area as well as their family members.

** Social status means education or qualification acquired by a natural person or his studies at research and education establishments, his property, income, need for state support provided for in legal acts, family or marital status and/or other factors related to the financial/economic situation of the person.

Indirect discrimination means any act or omission, legal provision or assessment criterion, apparently neutral provision or practice that formally are the same but their implementation or application results or would result in de facto restrictions on the exercise of rights or extensions of privileges, preferences or advantages on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion, unless that act or omission, legal provision or assessment criterion, provision or practice is justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

Harassment means any unwanted conduct which occurs with the purpose, or effect, of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion.

Sexual harassment means any form of unwanted and insulting verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature with a person, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment.

According to Lithuanian anti-discrimination laws, it is prohibited to discriminate in these domains of application:

  • Labour relations (at work, during the process of employment). For instance, if company is looking for a manager who must be a woman, preferably 35–45 years old, it is violating the laws by discriminating against a person because of their gender and age. Another example of discrimination is a situation when an actress is asked to “sleep” with a director for a role in a play. This “suggestion” is recognized as sexual harassment.
  • Environment of educational establishments, research and education institutions. For instance, if a teacher at their class is presenting information that humiliates homosexual people, it is considered to be a discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • Area of consumer protection. For example, situation, when a driving instructor puts his hand on a student's leg and tells her to turn left while patting her, is considered to be a violation of the Law on Equal Treatment. Internet ad informing that only people under 50 can book a room in a hotel is another example of discrimination.
  • The policies or actions of state and municipal institutions and agencies. For instance, if a ministry establishes an award only for teachers that are younger than 35, it discriminates against older educators.
  • The field of organisations and associations. For example, if an association accepts only people of Lithuanian origin, it discriminates against people of other nationalities.

Discrimination can be identified when there is a match between the grounds of forbidden discrimination of a person, as established in the legal acts, and the domain where discrimination is illegal (see picture below). 

Grounds of discrimination

The provisions of the Law on Equal Treatment and the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men shall not apply to:

  • family and private life;
  • religious communities, associations and centres, organisations established by them or their members on purpose to implement their goals;
  • cases where organisations uniting individuals on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, citizenship, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion decide on membership of, or employment in, these organisations, provided it is genuine, legitimate and justified in relation to the common ground of an organisation;
  • mass media content.

What is not discrimination according to the Law on Equal Treatment and the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men?

  • Special protection of women during pregnancy, childbirth and nursing;
  • different cases for fulfilling military conscription for men and women;
  • different pensionable age for women and men;
  • different requirements for physical training, safety and health at work;
  • a certain job that can be performed only by a person of a particular sex;
  • specific temporary measures set forth by laws are applied with a view to accelerating the guaranteeing of factual equality between women and men and which must be repealed upon implementation of equal rights and equal opportunities for women and men;
  • different procedure and conditions of implementation of certain penalties;
  • the sale of goods or the provision of services solely to, or in particular to, persons of one sex is justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary;
  • restrictions on the grounds of age as established by laws where it is justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary;
  • requirement to know the state language as established by laws;
  • prohibition of participation in political activities in the cases specified by laws;
  • different rights applied on the basis of citizenship as established by laws;
  • special measures in the field of health care, safety at work, employment, labour market as established by laws with the view of creating and applying conditions and opportunities guaranteeing and promoting integration into the working environment;
  • special temporary measures, as established by laws, which are taken to ensure equality and prevent violation of equal treatment on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion;
  • where, by reason of the nature of the particular occupational activities concerned or of the context in which they are carried out, a particular human characteristic constitutes an essential and determining occupational requirement, provided that the aim is legitimate and the requirement is proportionate;
  • where the legal regulation of restrictions, special requirements or certain conditions relating to the social status of a person is justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary;
  • organisation of separate sports competitions for the disabled;
  • providing benefits on the basis of age, disability and social status, when it is justified by a legitimate aim, and is pursued with appropriate and necessary means.