Article 4(6) of the Law on Employment and Work of Foreigners provides that when employing a foreigner, the employer must not put the job seeker in less favourable position due to race, color of skin, gender, age, health condition, that is, disability, religious, political or other convictions, trade union membership, national or social background, family status, property status, sexual orientation, or due to other personal circumstances. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)
Women and Justice: Location
The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (the “LEOWM”) is specialized legislation that prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex and gender. Articles 3(3), 4, 5 and 7 expressly mention that prohibition of sex discrimination is an essential part of the law. The LEOWM further provides that “gender-based sexual harassment is any type of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour of sexual nature, aimed at or resulting in violation of the dignity of a person, especially when an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere is created.” (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)
The Law on Prevention of and Protection from Discrimination (the “LPPD”), which entered into force in 2011, introduced the concepts of direct and indirect discrimination (Article 6), instruction to discriminate (Article 9) and harassment and sexual harassment (Article 7). The LPPD covers almost all grounds of discrimination as covered by EU law i.e. “ sex, race, colour, gender, belonging to a marginalized group, ethnic origin, language, nationality, social background, religion or religious beliefs, other types of beliefs, education, political affiliation, personal or social status, mental and physical impediment, age, family or marital status, property status, health condition or any other basis anticipated by a law or ratified international agreement." However, the LPPD does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Article 9 of the LPPD also covers sexual harassment, which states that “sexual harassment shall be unwanted behavior of sexual nature, manifested physically, verbally or in any other manner, aimed at or resulting in violation of the dignity of a person, especially when creating a hostile, intimidating, degrading or humiliating environment." Article 4 of the LPPD covers a wide scope on the prohibition on harrassments, which includes: (a) labour and labour relations; (b) education, science and sport; (c) social security, including the area of social protection, pension and disability insurance, health insurance and health protection; (d) judiciary and administration; (e) housing; (f) public information and media; (g) access to goods and services; (h) membership and activity in unions, political parties, citizens’ associations and foundations or other membership-based organizations; (i) culture, and (j) other areas determined by law. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)
Article 9 of the Constitution provides that all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of “sex, race, colour of skin, national and social origin, political and religious belief, property and social status”. Article 110 of the Constitution expressly prohibits discrimination among citizens on the ground of sex, race, religion or nation, social or political affiliation. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)
A legal scholar and four non-governmental organizations filed an initiative with the Constitutional Court of Macedonia for the commencement of a procedure to review the constitutionality of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy ((“Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia”, nos.87/2013, 164/2013 and 144/2014”) (the “LTP”) and its compatibility with international law, on the basis that the LTP created “a possibility of state interference into the right of choice and free decision-making of the women (which was contrary to Article 41 paragraph 1 and Article 118 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia)”. Further, the applicants stated that the LTP contravenes Articles 11 paragraph 1, Article 39 paragraph 2 and Article 41 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which provides that female citizens had sovereignty over themselves, their life, physical integrity and health. The applicants pointed out, inter alia, that the requirement to submit a written request, mandatory counselling, and waiting period were incompatible with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of choice regarding childbirth. In addition, given that those provisions in the LTP did not exist for any other medical intervention, they represented a discrimination against women. All but one of the judges stated that they do not consider the LTP to be problematic and fully rejected the initiative.
A 65-year-old woman working in a state institution requested to continue her employment for two more years was denied on the basis that, according to Paragraphs 2 and 4 of Article 104 of the Labour Law of Macedonia (the “Contested Provisions”), the age limit to which women can work is 65 years of age, while this limit for men is 67 years of age. The Union-National Council for Gender Equality and the Macedonian Women’s Lobby initiated proceedings in the Constitutional Court of Macedonia (the “Court”) challenging the constitutionality of the Contested Provisions on grounds that they contravene Articles 9 and 32 of the Constitution. The Court held that the Contested Provisions are not in accordance with the established constitutional principle of equality of citizens on grounds of sex per Article 9 of the Constitution, on the basis that the Contest Provisions impose termination of employment of female employees under different conditions than male employees. The Contested Provisions are thereby repealed.