Minorities to get equal footing

The government is planning legislative action to ensure that discrimination on grounds of race, sex, religion, disability or nationality is banished from the workplace and the social security system, sources told Kathimerini. If eventually passed, the law will help bring Greece in line with EU standards and would be a considerable boost to the some 750,000 immigrants thought to be living and working in the country. The government says it is holding detailed discussions with religious leaders, immigrant worker organizations, disabled people and gay rights groups before Labor and Social Security Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos and Justice Minister Anastassios Papaligouras actually go ahead and put the bill before Parliament. As such, a date for when the draft law will be presented has not been proposed. The blueprint, made up of five chapters and 25 articles, was prepared by a special drafting committee under the guidance of Michalis Vrontakis, vice president of the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court. The first chapter is devoted to eradicating discrimination in the workplace and the employment process. Chapters two and three focus on defining the areas in which the law is applicable, and the obligations of employers. Chapter Four outlines the process by which those who feel they have been discriminated against can find recourse in the courts. The draft law improves plaintiffs’ chances of winning their cases, as it states that the burden of proof will be upon employers to prove their innocence. Employers will face punishment if found guilty, but it is not clear what form this will take. Chapter Five deals with the creation of an independent review body, made up of a commissioner and five deputies, to deal with matters of alleged discrimination. It will be responsible for giving support to workers who bring cases of unfair treatment against employers. The draft law also calls for private and public sector employers to improve work conditions for disabled people. The previous PASOK government also sought to draft a law on this issue but did not succeed.