Infringing the principle of equal treatment

The equal treatment rule requires that persons in equivalent situations be treated equally regardless of their sex or nationality, their age, sexual identity, skin colour, religion or whether or not they have a disability. The result of infringing the principle of equal treatment is unequal treatment or discrimination. In order to be able to tell whether someone has been treated unequally because of their sex, age, disability or other characteristic it is necessary to specify the existence of another person or group of persons who are in a comparable situation, and who differs as regards the claimed discrimination characteristic (i.e. sex, age, nationality, etc). For example, in order to establish discrimination on the basis of salary for an employee of Russian nationality, a comparison is made between his/her salary and the salary of an employee of a different nationality who is carrying out work of similar value. If a disabled person is not employed because of the disability, it is sufficient to analyse whether he/she would have been employed if he/she had not been disabled. Similarly, if a dark-skinned person is subject to unfavourable treatment because of prejudice or racist attitudes, it is not necessary to establish a comparable person with a different skin colour.

In certain situations discrimination can also be established by comparing persons of the same sex, e.g. when a childless woman is preferred in promotion to a woman with children, only because she has no children.