Direct gender discrimination

Direct gender discrimination occurs when one person is treated less favourably because of his/her sex than another person in a similar situation.
It is direct gender discrimination, for example, when some service is supplied to only women or only men, or women are charged less than men for that service. Behaviour, where the employer does not hire a person only, or primarily, because the person is a man (or woman), is also direct gender discrimination. Such situations often occur due to prejudice. For example, an employer not considering a woman for a job may think that the work is not suitable for women, or that the woman will soon get pregnant anyway. Such prejudices also affect men: employers may think that men lack the skills and prerequisites for caring for children or the elderly. They may also think that a man would not stay for long in a low-paid job.

Direct gender discrimination is also gender harassment and sexual harassment.

According to Estonian law, direct gender discrimination is also a person’s less favourable treatment due to pregnancy and giving birth, being a parent, fulfilling family obligations or to other reasons associated with his/her sex. It is also direct discrimination when an employer treats a pregnant woman less favourably than a woman who is not pregnant, or a man who is a parent less favourably than a man who has no child-related responsibilites.

Gender discrimination also takes place when persons are treated badly because they have sought to protect their rights, or another’s rights, based on the rights and obligations set out in the Gender Equality Act. This means that an employer may not victimize a person who has filed a discrimination complaint against him/her, and also that a person cannot be excluded from recruitment because he/she has previously stood up for his/her rights.

In the case of direct discrimination it is not important whether the behaviour is due to ignorance or whether it is ill-intentioned.

In order to determine discrimination, two persons need to be placed in a comparable situation. To see if discrimination is taking place, ask whether the person would have been treated unfavourably if he/she had not been a man/woman, or if he/she did not have children, family members requiring care, or other family responsibilities.