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EQUAL TREATMENT COMMISSION
NETHERLANDS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Background
Mandate
Internal organisation
Activities
Procedure
Assessment of actions
CONTACT

Background 

The Dutch Equal Treatment Commission (CGB) is an independent body that was established in 1994 to promote and monitor compliance with the equal treatment laws. The Commission also gives advice and information about these laws. Everyone in the Netherlands can ask the Commission for an opinion or advice about a specific situation concerning unequal treatment, free of charge.

Mandate 

The Commission reviews the requests for opinions it receives to see if the regulations on equal treatment have been violated. It deals with unequal treatment on the grounds of: gender; race; nationality; religion; belief; political conviction; sexual orientation; civil status; part-time or full-time work; temporary contracts; disability or chronic illness and age.

It is forbidden to treat people differently on these grounds in a number of situations, such as working relationships between employers and employees, and in offering goods and services.

The Commission deals with requests for opinions about direct as well as indirect discrimination.

Internal organisation 

The CGB consists of nine Commissioners, including a President and two Vice-Presidents. Furthermore, the CGB has at least nine substitute Commissioners, who can substitute a Commissioner during a hearing. Some of them also have specialist knowledge. Legal advisers support the Commissioners during investigations. The CGB also has a job evaluation schemes expert.

Activities 

The Equal Treatment Commission’s main fields of activity are as follows:

Procedure 

When the CGB receives a request for an opinion about alleged discrimination, it investigates whether the equal treatment law has been violated. In some respects, the CGB is similar to a court. An important difference is that the CGB gathers information itself. Other differences are that filing a petition is free of charge and that people do not need a lawyer. The CGB does not necessarily need to receive a petition in order to investigate whether the equal treatment law has been violated. It also conducts investigations on its own initiative.

Individuals who feel that they have been unequally treated on one of the above-mentioned grounds may file a petition for an opinion to the Commission. An individual may also request a third party to file a petition as their representative. This may be a relative, a trade union, or a pressure group, such as an anti-discrimination organisation, which is entitled to act as an authorised representative and carry out the procedure on behalf of the individual concerned. However, the nomination of an authorised representative does not mean that the individual can remain anonymous.

Pressure groups may also file petitions with the Commission independently. However, they can only file petitions if they are organisations or societies that were officially founded to promote the interests of the people to whom the regulations for equal treatment apply. Trade unions and other employee’s associations may also file petitions to the Commission, but their petitions must concern equal treatment within their own company or organisation.

After a petition is filed, it is reviewed by the Commission to see if it can be processed. The Commission interviews both parties and gives them a chance to respond to the other’s point of view. The Commission can also ask third parties as witnesses to give information about the case. The procedure is free and no lawyer is required.

Once enough information has been collected, the investigation is closed and a hearing is held, usually lasting around one hour. Both parties testify at the hearing and can take experts to it. The Commission can question both parties and compare their points of view.

After the hearing, the Commission discusses the case in a closed meeting. It comes to a decision within a maximum of eight weeks. In its decision, the Commission specifies whether the regulations on equal treatment have been violated and whether the complainant has been a victim of discrimination.

The Commission’s decisions have a high moral authority but are not legally binding. The Commission cannot force the party who has been found guilty of discrimination to comply with its decision. However, in practice, its decisions are usually accepted and followed.

After a decision has been made, the Commission often follows up a case. For example, it may talk to representatives of the branch of industry in which the case occurred in order to build up good communication channels, which may prevent similar cases occurring in the future.

Assessment of actions  

Employers or organisations may submit their own regulations to the Commission, requesting an assessment of whether these comply with the existing legal regulations. This is referred to as a request for an assessment of one’s own actions.

CONTACT 

Equal Treatment Commission

Commissie Gelijke Behandeling

Kleinesingel 1-3

Postbus 16001

NL – 3500 DA UTRECHT

Tel: +31 30 8883888
Fax: +31 30 8883883
E-mail: info@cgb.nl
Website: www.cgb.nl