|Authorities get tough
with job offer discriminating ads
Helsinki (18.06.2010 - Juhani Artto) Authorities are now
beginning to take notice of job ads which feature discriminatory elements. When there is a
clear case of discrimination in job adverts, the authorities send a cautionary note to
employers, alerting them to such irregularities and instructions to comply with the law on
equality and discrimination.
A recent study on discrimination in working life also took a look at discrimination in job
ads. The researchers based this part of their study on 95 job ads that had been advertised
between 2008 and 2009 -all found to be discriminatory or otherwise interesting in this
One common and persistent problem was the demand that job seekers enclose photographs with
applications. "A photograph causes discriminating advance dropping of
applicants", according to Milla Aaltonen, an advisor to the Finnish League for Human
Rights and one of the researchers who worked on the study. She was interviewed by PAM
magazine. "A photograph may only be requested in cases where appearance is essential
for the job in question. For example, if a model or an actor/actress is required."
Another type of unacceptable job ad was where the demand was for certain personal data,
such as details about the applicant's history of sick leave and reasons for same, civil
status and number of children. Unacceptable also were requests for information on the job
seeker's military service and credit register history when concerning jobs that were not
in the armed forces or portfolio management in financial institutions.
In 18 ads a thorough knowledge of Finnish or a requirement that Finnish should be the
mother tongue was demanded even when the question of language was not vital to the jobs
advertised. In 16 cases age demands were discriminatory. Typically a "suitable"
age range, for example from 18 to 30 or from 35 to 50, was mentioned.
The vast majority of these unacceptable ads (88 per cent in fact) were from
the private sector. In the public sector, the situation was somewhat more problematic as
several of the typical discriminating ads concerned religion. In several cases the
employer was an Evangelical Lutheran parish, which required job seekers to be members of
the parish or share a Christian world view even when the services sought were positions of
those of cleaner or gardener.
In two publicised cases it was deemed acceptable to advertise for a female employee. The
jobs in question were caretaker of a girls' dormitory and vendor of female underwear. But
placing an ad for a woman that had given birth to a child to work in a childrens wear shop
was regarded as unacceptable by the authorities.