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Equality in Labor Relations and Prohibition of Discrimination

Labor Discrimination

What is labor discrimination?

Labor discrimination is the differential treatment of a person to deprive him/her of equal opportunities during employment and professional activities (Georgian Labor Code Article 4 Paragraph 1)

What are the grounds for labor discrimination?

The grounds for illegal labor discrimination can be: race; skin color; language; ethnic and social affiliation; nationality; origin; property or rank status; employment contract status; dwelling place; age; sex; sexual orientation; disabilities; health condition; belonging to a religious, social, political or other association, including a trade union; marital status; political or other views  Georgian Labor Code Article 4 Paragraph 1).

When does the prohibition of discrimination apply?

Norms prohibiting labor discrimination apply to:

  • Selection criteria and conditions of employment;
  • Access to career advancement;
  • At all levels of the professional hierarchy, regardless of the field of activity;
  • Working conditions and remuneration;
  • Termination of employment;
  • Membership in a trade union;
  • On the conditions of social protection (Georgian Labor Code Article 5).


What actions constitute labor discrimination?

  • Direct or indirect reference to qualities that have nothing to do with the qualifications of a potential employee or the performance of official duties. For example: setting a maximum age limit for vacancies; dismissal of an employee due to reaching retirement age.
  • Exclusion of certain people from the selection/employment process on  grounds unrelated to their work skills and discrimination. For example: refusal to hire and/or dismissal due to political affiliation, critical and dissenting views, including from public institutions.
  • Refusal to provide benefits or remuneration to some employees on a discriminatory basis.
  • Different salaries for equally qualified workers who perform the same duties. For example, different pay for women and men.
  • Discrimination in connection with maternity leave, assistance to people with disabilities or retirement plans. For example unequal treatment due to maternity leave during pregnancy/childbirth and refusal to take leave; refusing reasonable access to a person with a disability.
  • Discriminatory treatment in connection with dismissal or employment.
  • Refusal to hire due to trade union membership or harassment and/or unequal treatment due to trade union membership.
  • Creating or promoting a hostile work environment*.

* Examples of discrimination cases are taken from the Coalition for Equality activity reports:

Are there other grounds for illegal labor discrimination that are not explicitly stated in the Labor Code?

Yes, the list of grounds for labor discrimination is not exhaustive. You can allege any other grounds for discrimination in the protection of the right to equality.

Cases of discrimination on other grounds*:

  • Discrimination over trade union membership – Refusal to hire due to trade union membership; harassment and/or unequal treatment due to trade union membership.

* Examples of discrimination cases are taken from the Coalition for Equality activity reports:

What measures are not considered discrimination? When can an employer apply special measures and what might they include?

It is not discrimintion to take special measures to meet the specific needs of people in need of special protection and support (Georgian Labor Code Article 8).

Special measures may be applied to persons who are recognized by the general public as having a special need for support, taking into account their gender, age, disability, family responsibilities, social or cultural status.

Special measures may include: giving preference to employment, creating special working conditions in the workplace, and provoding additional guarantees of protection against dismissal.

What are 'reasonable accommodations' and what measures must employers take?

Reasonable accommodation is the principle of equal treatment of persons with disabilities in labor relations. Employers are obliged, if necessary, to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunities for employment, career advancement, professional development and vocational training.

Reasonable accommodation measures fall into two main categories. The first category includes technical measures, including ancillary equipment or other adaptations to the workplace. The second category includes organizational mechanisms, such as the adjustment of working hours and redistribution of duties, mechanisms of remote work, leave based on health status, extended or additional leave, assistance, transfer to another office and/or other work, etc.

However, the employer is not obliged to carry out the above mentioned measures if they impose a disproportionate burden. The burden is not considered disproportionate if state support programs, benefits and/or other alternative means are available for a particular event.

Refusal by the employer to make reasonable accommodations in the presence of a proportionate burden is considered illegal discrimination.

Workplace harassment & Sexual Harassment

What is workplace harassment?

Harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination, and is defined as undesirable behavior intended to harm the targeted person’s dignity or to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, degrading or abusive environment.

Comment: Harassment in the workplace can be manifested in following actions: unethical and abusive forms of communication (Georgian Labor Code Article 8); lack of communication between a manager and employee for an extended period; creating an unconfortable work environment; and the use of subjective incentive mechanisms that disfavor some employees.

What is sexual harassment and what actions does it include?

Physical Behavior

Verbal behavior

Nonverbal Behavior

Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature towards a person which is intended and/or causes damage to his or her dignity and creates a terrifying, hostile, abusive, indecent or abusive environment.

Sexual harassment can be manifested in the following behaviors: using sexual language, including jokes; sexual demands or bribes; placing sexual material in a conspicuous place; asking sexual questions or asking about a person’s sex life; any form of contact without consent; mocking on the basis of sex/gender; exposing genitals and/or non-verbal physical behavior of any other sexual nature (Georgian Labor Code Article 4 Paragraph 6 Remark).

Comment: The Public Defender of Georgia has noted that sexual harassment is considered particularly severe and abusive when the perpetrator uses his or her official position.

The perpetrator’s behavior may be manifested in verbal, non-verbal or physical acts of a sexual nature, as detailed below. Examples of prohibited sexual harassment include touching and intimate comments on certain parts of the victim’s body; talking about sexual experiences and preferences; offering sex and so on.

What physical behavior constitutes sexual harassment?

  • Unwanted physical contact, including stroking, pinching, patting, kissing, hugging, caressing, or inappropriate touching;
  • Physical abuse, including sexual violence.

What verbal behavior constitutes sexual harassment?

  • Comments about an employee’s appearance, age, personal life, etc.;
  • Sexual comments, stories and anecdotes;
  • Sexual acts;
  • Repeated and unwanted social invitations, requests for a date or physical intimacy;
  • Abuse based on the sex of the employee;
  • Arrogant or paternalistic remarks;
  • Sending sexually explicit messages (by phone or email);
  • Using a job-related threat or reward to obtain sexual favors.

What nonverbal behavior constitutes sexual harassment?

  • Display of material containing sexual content or sexual offers;
  • Gestures indicating sexual content;
  • Whistling in a sexual nature;
  • A sexualized gaze.

Harassers or third parties often focus on the victim’s non-vigilance, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics to justify the harasser’s sexual behavior.*

* Special Report of the Public Defender of Georgia on the Fight Against Discrimination, Its Prevention and the State of Equality, 2019. ხელმისაწვდომია:


What obligations does the employer have when implementing non-discrimination norms?

In order to implement non-discrimination norms in practice, employers must:

  • Ensure the equal treatment of job candidates;
  • Ensure the inclusion of non-discrimination norms and protection mechanisms in labor regulations, collective agreements and other documents;
  • Take measures to introduce the principle of equal treatment of persons in the workplace (Georgian Labor Code Article 11 Point 9). 

Comment: In a case dealing with workplace sexual harassment, the Public Defender of Georgia assessed not only the behavior of the harasser, but also the response of the harasser’s company to allegations of harassment. The Public Defender of Georgia determined that private companies should establish a mechanism for reporting, investigating and responding to sexual harassment in order to ensure the implementation of these norms in practice.

Can my employer punish me because I filed an application or lawsuit to protect myself against labor discrimination?

No, the Labor Code prohibits an employer from terminating a contract or taking any restrictive measures against (e.g., salary reduction or initiation of disciplinary proceedings) because an employee has filed an petition or claim with a competent authority for protection against discrimination. (Georgian Labor Code Article 4 Point 4).

Comment: The Public Defender of Georgia has found that making a complaint to the authorities cannot not be used by the employer as grounds for dismissing an employee.*

* The Recommendation of the Public Defender of March 5, 2018 to the Mayor of Tianeti Municipality:

How to get help

If you believe you are the victim of labor discrimination you can apply to the following entities for redress:

  • LEPL Labor Inspection of Georgia;
  • The Department of Equality of the Public Defender of Georgia;
  • Common courts of Georgia.

Some private and public organizations have also developed internal grievance mechanisms for cases of discrimination and sexual harassment, as permitted by Georgia’s labor regulations. Employees may also use these internal mechanisms. However, the existence of an internal grievance mechanism does not preclude the employee from applying directly to the relevant state body regarding a labor discrimination dispute.

You can also find additional information here.