New Changes to Discrimination Law and Bullying at Work

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n 16 February 2023, the act amending the various discrimination laws and welfare laws was approved by the Belgian parliament (Federal Chamber). This act amends the Gender Act of 2007, the Discrimination (General) Act of 2007, the Racism and Xenophobia Act of 1981 and the Welbeing Act of 1996. This act will soon be published in the Belgian Official Journal, with an expected date of entry into force of either 1 April 2023 or 1 May 2023.

The act provides a response to recent case law of both the Court of Justice, on a case directed against Belgium by the European Commission, namely the Hakelbracht judgment (CoJ. 20 June 2019, C-404/18, Hakelbracht), and the Court of Cassation of 20 January 2020 and 15 June 2020 (Cass. 20 January 2020, S.19.0019.F and Cass. 15 June 2020, S.19.0041.N).

The act contains four major amendments, which are discussed below.

1. Protection against retaliation related to the content of a complaint or report

The first objective of the act is to extend the protection of the employee against adverse measures taken by the employer, because of the recent case-law of the Belgian Court of Cassation. From now on, it explicitly provides that the employer may not take any adverse action against the employee for reasons related to either making a report, filing a complaint, bringing an action for discrimination, filing a request for a formal psychosocial intervention due to violence or bullying at work, or relating to the content of that report, complaint, action, or request. Henceforth, the employer must be able to prove that the adverse action is unrelated to both the report, complaint, legal action or request, and to facts that can be inferred from the content of this report, complaint, legal action or request. Previously, it was only stipulated that the dismissal should not be linked to the report, complaint, legal action or request and nothing was stipulated about their contents.

2. Any person who actively contributes to the benefit of the discrimination victim is protected

The second objective is to increase the amount of persons protected   Read more

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