Discrimination handling in Germany (8)

Section 7: Examples

Section 7.1: The case of my company

My company has a company code about discrimination (discrimination is not allowed). We can submit a problem to the company and we have information how to submit the problem.

When I was in an interview they did not ask my nationality, but they asked for a permit to work in Germany which is the offered working place.

Section 7.2: Works council involvement

It heavily depends on the situation, but in general discrimination is a crime. The citizen is normally obliged to report the crime to the police.

There was a case where a works council had to choose whether to protect an employee who insulted others, reported by Spiegel online: Verfahren zur Amtsenthebung: Daimler-Betriebsratsmitglied applaudiert Pariser Attentätern (Impeachment: Daimler-works-council member applauds Paris terrorists) [1]. The person posted ``Jeder Mensch zahlt für seine Taten! Fuck Charlie Hebdo (Everyone pays for their actions! Fuck Charlie Hebdo)'', and was removed from his position in the works council for this action.

Section 7.3: Example of discrimination cases

In a job interview, it is illegal to ask questions about gender, pregnancy, age, nationality, family, disability, etc. (similar to US's Equal employment opportunity commission [2]). The equality opportunity officer must stop these questions [3]. It is common for companies to ask a member of the works council to participate in job interview to protect the applicant from illegal questions. This also protects the company from complaints by the applicant.


  1. Spiegel online, Verfahren zur Amtsenthebung: Daimler-Betriebsratsmitglied applaudiert Pariser Attentätern (Impeachment: Daimler-works-council member applauds Paris terrorists, http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/charlie-hebdo-schmaehung-daimler-betriebsrat-droht-amtsenthebung-a-1014702.html, 2015-1-23(Fri), (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  2. Wikipedia en, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Employment_Opportunity_Commission, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  3. test.de, Bundesarbeitsgericht: Schwangerschaft darf geheim bleiben, https://www.test.de/Bundesarbeitsgericht-Schwangerschaft-darf-geheim-bleiben-1082989-0/, (Online; accessed 2015-4-3(Fri)



I thank the following people for helping with this article: Daniel S., KKMR.

Discrimination handling in Germany (7)

Section 6: How to handle cases in a university

Every university has a diversity manager who responds to discrimination problems. The number of the people involved depends on the size of the university.  A large university has a full time position and a small university might have a part time position, but both are paid. For example, TU Dresden [1] is a rather small size university and has a web page and contact information. Humboldt University has an office for equality [2].


  1. TU Dresden, Gender Equality, https://tu-dresden.de/die_tu_dresden/gremien_und_beauftragte/beauftragte/gleichstellung/chancengleichheit/index_html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-3(Fri))
  2. Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Die zentrale Frauenbeauftragte, http://gremien.hu-berlin.de/de/frb, (Online; accessed 2015-4-3(Fri))


Discrimination handling in Germany (6)

Section 5.1: Works council

If a works council (Betriebsrat [1]) has been established in a company, the works council can handle discrimination cases. A works council is an in-company organization. It represents employees and its members are employees. It is not a union (e.g., works council doesn't do a strike). It is more based on cooperation with company's representative to improve the working environment which would also benefit the company itself. For instance, improving office environment would improve the task efficiency, this can also attract more talented people, preventing to quit talented employees, and so forth.

A works council's primary task is protecting/supporting employees. Therefore, if the employer disrespects equal opportunity, works council will handle the problem as supporting the employees.  If there are conflicts of interest (e.g., an employee made a hate speech), works councils choose to which employee to support based on the situation.

Section 5.2: Trade union

Trade unions (Gewerkschaft) represents employees that choose to be paying members. A union typically spans many companies in the same field. The union proactively handles discrimination problems, such as gender inequality. There are a few unions in Germany [2] (for example, ver.di, IG Metal, ..., see the wiki page).

Unions usually have non-racism policies and can handle any discrimination problem, provided they have access to the company. This is usually true if employees of the company are members of the union.


  1. Wikipedia de, Betriebsrat, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betriebsrat, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  2. Wikipedia de, Gewerkschaften in Deutschland, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gewerkschaften_in_Deutschland, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))

Discrimination handling in Germany (5)

Section 5: How to handle cases in a company

Inside a German company, a Behindertenvertreter (a representative of disabled people) handles any kind of discrimination problem of disabled personnel. Any company with five or more disabled employees has to form a Schwerbehindertenvertretung. (German Social Code: §94 Wahl und Amtszeit der Schwerbehindertenvertretung [1]).

The German federal government has an office for equal opportunity of disabled people: Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für die Belange behinderter Menschen [2]. The office handles not only disabled people's inequality, but also handles any kind of discrimination problems.

There seems no official third organization that handles each discrimination case, since non-governmental organization cannot have access to the internal information of a company. Usually the problem handler needs to access this kind of information. For example, inequality can be related with the salary, position, and so on. (However, more research is needed here.)

Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend [3]) is responsible for family support, but this includes gender payments equality and so on. Therefore, this ministry also handles discrimination problems.

For the problems inside companies, there are mainly two organizations: Works council and trade union. They handle the equal opportunity problem in a company.

(Note: I don't know what is the relationship between different ministries when handling the discrimination problems. Do they co-operate, or is it decided by case by case that which ministry handles which case?)


  1. Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB) Neuntes Buch (IX) - Rehabilitation und Teilhabe behinderter Menschen - (Artikel 1 des Gesetzes v. 19.6.2001, BGBl. I S. 1046), Kapital 5, §94 Wahl und Amtszeit der Schwerbehindertenvertretung, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/sgb_9/__94.html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-5(Sun))
  2. Behindertenbeauftragte, Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für die Belange behinderter Menschen, http://www.behindertenbeauftragte.de/DE/Home/home_node.html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-3(Fri))
  3. Behindertenbeauftragte, Das Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, http://www.bmfsfj.de/BMFSFJ/gleichstellung,did=126762.html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-3(Fri))


Discrimination handling in Germany (4)

Section 4: How to handle cases in general

In general, you need to report cases of discrimination or hate-speech to the police, always with some proof or witness. If you see it on YouTube, report to the police, too.

If someone publically say discrimination, you can sue the person and the Staatsanwaltschaft (prosecutor) must follow [1].

The following citation comes from Wikipedia's ``Gleichstellung von Frau und Mann auf kommunaler Ebene, Beispiel gemäß NRW-Gemeindeordnung (Equality between women and men at the local level, in accordance with Example NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia) Municipal Code) [2].''
Die Verwirklichung der Verfassungsaufgabe der Gleichberechtigung von Frau und Mann ist auch eine Aufgabe der Städte und Gemeinden. Zur Wahrnehmung dieser Aufgabe kann die Kommune Gleichstellungsbeauftragte bestellen. Mit dieser Änderung der Gemeindeordnung wurden die Kommunen in Nordrhein-Westfalen 1984 aufgerufen, zur Umsetzung dieses Verfassungsauftrages in eigener Verantwortung kommunale Gleichstellungsbeauftragte zu bestellen. Seit der Novellierung der Kommunalverfassung NRW im Oktober 1994 sind alle Gemeinden mit mehr als 10.000 Einwohner sowie alle Kreise verpflichtet, hauptamtliche Gleichstellungsbeauftragte zu bestellen. ...
The following is my translation to English from German above.
The realization of the constitutional task of equality between women and men is also a mission of the cities and municipalities. To perform this task, the municipality can hire equal opportunity officers. With this change, the municipal office was called by the municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia in 1984, to implement this constitutional mandate with their own responsibility, municipalities hired municipal equal opportunities officers. After the amendment of the municipal constitution of NRW in October 1994, all municipalities which have more than 10,000 inhabitants and all related parties are obliged to hire a full-time equal opportunity officer. ...
This means at least one equal opportunity officer should be hired in the city more than 10,000 people.


  1. Wikipedia de, Staatsanwaltschaft (Prosecutor), https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staatsanwaltschaft, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  2. Wikipedia de, Gleichstellungsbeauftragte, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleichstellungsbeauftragte, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))


Discrimination handling in Germany (3)

Section 3: Historical background in Europe

Solving discrimination problems started as Frauenbewegung (Feminist movement) [1] in Europa, and developed to Gleichstellungsbeauftragte (equal opportunity). So, it started as a woman-man equality problem, but later it expanded to any kind of discrimination.

One of the leading companies of diversity is IBM [2]. IBM had an activity for equal opportunity employment (around 1900, IBM has not yet established at 1900, but it started in former IBM company) long before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had been established in US in 1965.

Freedom of expression is sometimes abused against human dignity. After world war II, it was decided that newspaper should be more independent from anything as soon as a public (Freedom of expression). This is in the basic law of Germany, Article 5 [3].


  1. Wikipedia de, Frauenbewegung, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frauenbewegung, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  2. IBM, Diversity and Inclusion, http://www-03.ibm.com/employment/us/diverse/index.shtml, http://www-06.ibm.com/jp/employment/jp/life/modus/diversity.shtml, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  3. Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, English translation version,http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/englisch_gg.html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))